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Ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 1 of 72 women; 14,000 will die. Please know the symptoms and risk factors: read Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. Books at www.amazon.com. ALL PROCEEDS GO TO GYNECOLOGIC CANCER RESEARCH. I am a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writer's International Society of Authors, and Patient Leadership Council for Tesaro, Inc. I WILL NOT USE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE THAN CONTACTING YOU DIRECTLY. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2018.

Friday, April 24, 2015


        A few weeks ago a group of gynecologic cancer survivors met for their monthly lunch. It is always a special time of sharing, learning, and support. One particular Tuesday we talked about the book/movie Wizard of Oz, its various characters, and how this can be compared to our own journeys with cancer. To help tell us our stories we made collages.

     At first many of us were hesitant to participate saying such things as "I'm not artistic", "I do not know how to do this", or "this is something for my grandchildren to do." Gradually we each began to create our own work of art as we reached for photos, pieces of fur or straw, sparkling letters, magic markers, and glue. I became more introspective as I thought about what I have learned, gone through, and accepted since my diagnosis in 2008.

     The scarecrow character struggles with the feeling of     inadequacy.  His strengths are intuitiveness and sensitivity to people. He is fun-loving and at times to the point of being ridiculous. A scarecrow is used to protect the crops by scaring the birds away; just as the character in our story tries to dance, sing, and laugh away the sadness in his life. He believed the crow that said he was nothing but a mindless fool so he wants a brain.

     The tin man wants a heart. He is dependent on others to oil his joints so he can keep going. His dependency is the same as victimization. Do you ever feel like you are being manipulated by others? Do you use your own sense of trust and strength to not be dependent? He is also the most sensitive and emotional character. He has a soul and a spirit unlike the other mechanical characters. He remembers his humanness and therefore desires to have a heart again.

     The lion roars loudly to show he has no fear and is more powerful than anyone else in Oz. However, he is fearful and incorrectly believes he needs to have the loudest and most ferocious roar. What he needs to learn that his innate ability to support and defend is through Love, not the sound of his roar. He was distracted by his love for Dorothy, the scarecrow, and the tin man, which helped him to let the over powering sense of Love, not a roar, help him to overcome fear.

     Our path in life is represented by the yellow brick road. To walk any path we must first take a step, another, and then  another. With each step there may be twists and turns along the way. Sometimes we are met with unexpected and frightening events. Do we use our heart, our brain, or our courage to face and overcome our perceived inabilities, troubles, or fears? Like Dorothy we sometimes feel lost and just want to get back home; we all are suddenly faced with challenges and "need to grow up" or "find ourselves." When we return home, we have had new experiences and opportunities to grow and be stronger. Dorothy learns from each character and experience including the Wizard, just as are to learn from the people and events in our lives.

     My collage shows (Dorothy) me in my home with a beautiful garden...things and places I love. Then the monkeys and black birds appear (cancer) flying over and around me. The letters G.O.D. separate the past from my new beginning or life as a survivor. I am surrounded by words and pictures of flowers, sun rises, peace, harmony, a butterfly, and the word "outshine." The collage represents my yellow brick road for the past 8 years.

     What would your collage look like? Which character do you relate to the most? Are there any flying monkeys surrounding you? Is there a "witch" who is trying to keep you "from going home?"

     Collages are a fun and magical way for us to let the child in us come out; to face issues that we have tried to avoid; to find answers and hope for our future. I encourage you to get the magazines, markers, and paste out and make your own collage.

My thanks to Eileen and Latanya from Waterman Hospital by bringing this fun and thought provoking activity to me.


  1. Wonderful post Karen. Right now I'm flinging poop at those monkeys.

  2. Thank you, Dixie, and throw some poop at those monkeys for me!!