Atlanta has one of the best cancer wellness centers in the country. As a survivor, I have attended their classes and been blown away by the patients’ creativity and aliveness.
I found out about the Piedmont Cancer Wellness Center in Atlanta, this past autumn, while I was looking to teach yoga therapy to cancer patients. With that goal in mind, I met the manager, Carolyn Helmer. She suggested that I, as a survivor myself, start by attending classes and workshops to get a vibe of the place, the people who look to the center for support, as well as the healers and the teachers in the support team.
I was a little annoyed by the idea. I was passionate about teaching yoga therapy to anyone affected by cancer. Nevertheless, I wanted nothing else to do with people looking like zombies.
I met people who were dealing or had dealt with breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, pancreatic cancer. You name it.
I also came across something I didn’t expect—aliveness.
I attended soul collage sessions, yoga classes and personal development workshops. We all shared a common experience–The experience of facing or of having faced, at some point in our lives, the effects of a life-threatening disease.
During a lunch break, I talked with Cookie, a woman who had had pancreatic cancer seven years before, now in full remission. I had noticed her witty look and remarks during the class. “If it wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t be alive today,” she told me.
During a workshop on how to cultivate self-care, the counselor asked us to come together in groups of three and brainstorm to write our own quote on self-care. Adele, Elizabeth and I were ecstatic with our quote: “Drop the mask of perfection and replace it with authenticity. Allow the development of creativity and reach for the unknown”.
After the workshop, I left the center and took the elevator to the building’s lobby. Suddenly, I stopped walking. I became aware that people I came across—employees, visitors, etc.–looked dull and drained. A thought came to my mind. I had just spent three hours with a bunch of cancer people who looked more alive than the “healthy” people. I smiled while realizing that, after all, I liked the zombies.
The visual at the top of the page is a card I created during a soul collage session at the center on Jan. 5, 2019. The card is titled “I See You”.