Creative Coping Improves Cancer Recovery

More than 1.6-million Americans will be told they have some form of cancer this year. Living with the disease can be a daily challenge, but some have found creative ways to cope that seem to be just what the doctor ordered.

With each splatter of paint, cancer survivor Ray Paul's fears are fading. "It's definitely very therapeutic and when you figure you're sick like this, you might not have a lot of time" Paul told Ivanhoe.

He calls his artwork "My Sarcoma", it's his coping canvas. "There are mainly lung cells and a couple would be the tumor in the leg. I kind of try to show it as a progression too" Paul recalled from his paintings.

Jacob Gardinier Scott, MD, Radiation Oncologist of Moffitt Cancer Center says finding ways to cope can be helpful for patients. Doctor Scott explained, "I find that the people who are able to divert the focus back to something else, something important to them are the ones who even do better."

Studies show having a hobby or creative outlet can improve overall health and well-being. Other coping ideas are gardening, dancing, comedy, blog-writing or even exercise.

28-year-old brain cancer patient Michelle Boyd Dejong's coping canvas is her skin. She has tattooed the word "fighter" on her arm and her husband and friends are also armed with this fighter tattoo.

Dejong told Ivanhoe, "Stamping my arm was something I could control. There were so many things outside of my control."

Michelle's inked arm has caught on and now people all over the world are wearing the word "fighter" on their body or t-shirt. Dejong explained, "I got this as a reminder to fight every single day."

 It's a way to cope and fight a disease that they'll do anything to beat.

Michelle Boyd Dejong is also writing a book about her journey. She says if she can't finish writing it, she'll have her husband do it.