During my eight months of treatment for breast cancer (surgery, chemo, radiation) I was scared, down, tired and sick for much of it. There were three things that pulled me up and gave me strength to be myself, whether that self was upbeat, sad, funny or depressed.
to breast cancer survivors or women who were also in
Connecting to these women not only provided education, inspiration and support, but gave me a connection that I am truly unable to explain. This connection continues to go deeply into making me feel part of a community who truly understands what it is like to have cancer.
During that time, I was supported by my friends, but also, made new, very strong friendships with people who were not afraid to be near “cancer”, but instead provided me with strength and friendship and love.
Many days I was too sick to leave my house. My friends, both old and new, would arrive with art projects that I could do from my bed. I learned to knit, mosaic, bead and more. While doing art, I was lost in the creativity and for those moments, I forgot about cancer. I continue to create much art today.
I have always loved playing and using my hands. When I was little I loved to make things and would say “I will always like toys”. This love of making things and playing led to my career as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, where I have been able to continue playing with children and using art as part of my work.
I never considered myself an artist, though somehow everyone who became my close friend was an artist. It is still hard for me to say, “ I am an artist”, though I am! I also believe we are all artists. When I engage in art I am able to get lost in the process and just come away feeling good!
Somehow this has all come together in the creation of Our Space. When I was on medical leave from my job due to treatment for breast cancer, I spent time with some close friends working on a mural for the community. I could not do detail painting, but loved just painting back and forth on the background. We would paint, talk, laugh, and sometimes cry. When I think of my time undergoing radiation treatment, this is one of my memories, and it is a pleasant one! It was peaceful and I enjoyed being in the company of my friends, one of whom was Gail Erdos. At the same time, a young teen in our town was beginning treatment for cancer. As we were painting, we began the conversation about how nice it would be if there was a place where this young girl could come and hang out with her friends and do something relaxing, just as we were doing. So, the thoughts began……and this was the beginning of Our Space.
Lee Ann Ross Berry
I’ve been drawn into the vision and mission of Our Space from the first day I met the co-founders, Gail and Peggy. Hearing their stories and their reasons for opening this center I knew that Our Space could work and that Our Space could make a difference in bringing some sense of happiness and normalcy to children/teens and families dealing with cancer.
I have unfortunately witnessed many close family members and friends battle cancer and their courageous strength has always inspired me and humbled me. It has also on many occasions left me feeling anxious, helpless and stressed-out. Interestingly enough my involvement in creative arts over the years has made a tremendous impact on my well-being during the difficult times. I loved opportunities to explore creative outlets, work with different mediums, try new projects and I found immense pleasure in painting, drawing and sewing. Any and all creative work gave me a sense of comfort, a sense of peace and inner strength, so similar to what Our Space will be able to offer it’s children, teens and families.
Gail and Peggy are amazingly talented individuals that I wholeheartedly support and I know I can play a role in helping them achieve their dream of making Our Space a reality and success