Putting a Cap on Cancer

By Cancer Foundation on March 27 / 2019


“I know I’ve taken very good care of myself throughout my entire life. I really believed my healthy habits would help me prevent things like cancer from happening.”

Elise’s cancer diagnosis came as a shock, and left her questioning if there was anything she could have done to prevent it. She describes the long process of coming to terms with cancer as “certainly an adventure.”

“I had a deep reservoir of resilience, but I really wondered if something like cancer would just be too overwhelming,” Elise says. “I didn’t know if I would be able to keep a positive attitude.”

As a mental health professional, Elise was quite aware of the complex relationship that can exist between cancer and mental health. But Elise had a feeling that trying to become her own source of support and guidance through cancer was not going to work.

“No one becomes an expert on cancer, reading up on it because they think they’ll have it one day,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about cancer, so why not reach out to someone who did?”

Elise was looking for that expert – someone who could help her navigate the unknown world of cancer and who could help her address her own unique concerns. “That’s exactly what I got with my Cancer Coach, Patti,” she says. “It was great to have someone ask you what you needed, and help you build a plan to get you there.”

Elise says that no matter what she needed, Patti would shift gears and meet her there. “One week it would be managing memory loss, and then the next week I would want to start doing some longer-term planning. Patti was able to adapt seamlessly to make sure I was getting the most out of my time with her.”

“When you’re going through cancer, you really want to control everything,” she says. “Coaching brings you back to the important question of, what is it that I need to be focusing on right now?”

And what Elise chose to focus on during treatment was an idea that employed her skills as an art therapist. “I have known creative energy to be vast, healing, and even divine,” she says. In order to confront and process the many emotions she was facing, she harnessed a new approach: creating hats to wear for each week of treatment.

Read the Story on Page 20

Note: The article linked here is from Envisage, the Canadian Art Therapy Association Online Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 1.

Elise Laviolette BA, MSc Psych, MC:AT is an art therapist and registered psychotherapist (qualifying). She is also a registered SoulCollage facilitator and visual artist. She lives, works, and creates in Ottawa, Ontario. She is sharing her article here with permission from the Canadian Art Therapy Association.


Back to Blog Listing