“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:
1. Talking to breast cancer survivors or women who were also in treatment.
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.
2. My family and friends
During that time, I was supported by my family and friends, but also, made new, very strong friendships with people who were not afraid to be near “cancer”, but instead provided me with strength, 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.”
Peggy has a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Columbia University and a Masters in Education through the Child Study Department at Tufts University. She has provided Occupational Therapy to children in varied settings and has been working in the Cambridge Public Schools for over 30 years. She has worked extensively with children, parents and teachers. Peggy has three children and is a parent of a young adult with special needs.
“I have always loved play and creating. This love of making things and playing led to my career as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, where I have been able to continue enjoying play with children and using art as part of my work, to assist children in developing their skills.
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 rejuvenated!
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.”
Gail and Peggy wish to acknowledge and thank Lee Ann Ross Berry, who was instrumental in the formation of Our Space, Inc. Lee Ann’s expertise in business and financial administration was essential to the development of Our Space. Lee Ann continues to provide these skills through her participation on the Board of Directors of Our Space, Inc.