Alexandra - Wellspring Member
Alexandra - Member, Wellspring Halton -Peel
“Art therapy was a very powerful healing tool for me. As a doctor, getting through this disease has opened my eyes to the anxiety that we face with layers of difficult decisions in cancer treatment. Dealing with this anxiety and learning to trust our new path needs to be addressed and acknowledged. Wellspring bridges the gap between medical treatment and wellness, addressing these issues and is always there as we face other obstacles on this journey. With the help I have had, I am mentally so much stronger to return to work - helping patients without being fragile and inspiring others to believe that they have more strength than they realize to make changes in their lives and live for the moment and love every day. In fact, this program also opened up a part of me that I didn’t realize – I have begun to love the expression of art and am now taking art courses to learn more techniques to paint and express my emotion as I change priorities and find that relaxing place in my mind as I paint.“
Art Therapy by Dr. Alexandra Ginty
I remember the day that I got a call from Wellspring to join the Art Therapy program. I visited wellspring a few months earlier. I was emotionally very fragile and still trying to sort out the guilt of not being able to be at work as a doctor and the impact of the bilateral breast cancer that was changing my life. I was not in a state of mind at that point to share anything and left the orientation as quickly as I could, forgetting to cross my name off the programs I had applied for. While lying in bed after a round of chemo, I was called about an upcoming art therapy program. No, “I’m not ready”, I said. I did not want to join a group where I may be used as a resource as a physician or hear comparisons or alternative therapies that upset my scientific principles. Then I thought, maybe I could quietly throw some clay or doodle with all these emotions without disclosing who I was and I phoned back to accept. The art therapy teacher called and was so reassuring about confidentiality and I was very comforted with her experience.
That was the beginning of a very important healing process. When I was able to connect my hand to the angry and sad feelings, what came out on paper was a very powerful journey of healing. It is not what you draw or how good it is, it is what happens to you as you draw that is important. My head was immersed in emotion as I put pen to paper and in sharing my drawing with the group I would cry as another part of me was describing the pain. It was cathartic and healing as the teacher helped me to understand the depth of the painting.
A watercolour painting that was then ripped and remounted onto construction paper
I drew a path to represent my life. It was perfect – wonderful husband, 2 wonderful children, and the career that I always wanted and worked so hard to achieve – so hard that it hurt sometimes.
It all was broken with one phone call. Everything changed. I couldn’t bear it – it felt so uncertain, scary, controlling. All my plans and path erased, it made me feel so weak and helpless. I was angry with people that compared me to their path. Just because they had the same disease did not mean it was the same situation, extent, pathology, surgery etc. I hated the judgement yet I did not want silence. I needed so much reassurance that a new path would appear since it felt at the time like the edge of a cliff and I could not see anything.
My new path is appearing and it is different but a lot of good has come along the new path because I have embraced it. I still think that the end of the path is not clear and may not be for a while but I am going to keep looking at the beautiful trees and love the journey. I will rest on the way and may need help to find my way again but I am willing to follow it not knowing where it is going now, confident that it is a good path.
It was very hard to tear the perfect painting but that helped me identify the pain that fractured through my life. It created a new path...