No Longer Strangers:
A Bulletin Board and
Waiting Room Writing Project:
Interactive writing with patients, staff, family, and friends.
An Art for Recovery© UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center Project
The first time I stepped into the halls of the UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion as an Art for Recovery intern in 2006, I was overwhelmed with feelings—fear that I wouldn’t be able to help anyone, worry that I would be intimidated by the amount of raw suffering I would encounter, and concern that I would say or do the wrong thing.
What I encountered was a lot of love. Sometimes this level of illness and suffering brings with it an openness and intensity that allows people who want to, to unlock their hearts and let strangers in. And then you are no longer strangers.
Here is an excerpt from the booklet, which you can download here.
I put this on a bulletin board in various places in the cancer hospital waiting room. People in the hospital, patients, families, friends, and hospital staff responded anonymously.
What animals teach us.
My puppy is kokua “the helper” in Hawaiian. He fills the empty moments. We are in life together, with
My doggie teaches me to keep seeking love and affection even when you’re down.
A squirrel taught me that if I store up my hopes to get through the winter of cancer, spring comes quickly!
My dog Corky took care of me every day I was ill. He is gone now–I miss him. He taught me unconditional love.
A bird that could not fly taught me it’s okay to be happy in my wheelchair. I can be happy, I will be happy and sing in my heart.
An owl taught me that sleepless nights may not be the worst thing in the world, because you can also sleep during the day.
My cat Calamity Jane always greets me at the door, like a dog, wagging her tail and rolling over for a belly rub. Every day except Thursday–chemo day. On that day she knows I don’t have the energy for belly rubs. She jumps on the bed with Mommy; remembers it’s nap day, teaches me to be aware of other people’s needs and not to expect anything in return. Just LOVE and lots of it.
Pets teach us how to be pampered.
My cat taught me just being is enough.
I learn to cat-nap from Angel, our cat, who also went through hard times.
Cats teach us not to be afraid of being solitary, dogs are about loyalty and love.
In life you learn not to lick the frogs.
My friend’s bunny taught me I don’t like bunnies.
A Publication of Art for Recovery©
Any mention or use of this publication must acknowledge the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Cynthia D. Perlis, Director of Art for Recovery©. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission from Art for Recovery©.