A Paper Crane Project: Coping with a Parent’s Diagnosis
My Dad’s Diagnosis
For six months my studio apartment slowly filled with paper cranes. At first they started lining windowsills then bookshelves, countertops and wallboards. Finally, when space ran out, I strung the cranes using clear fishing wire and hung them on the walls.
In June 2013 my Dad was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. As a 20-something starting my own life nearly 300 miles away, I was torn. I felt a duty as an able-bodied adult—and a daughter—to be there as a caregiver for my dad at home. I also acknowledged that leaving behind my job and apartment was not a practical decision, nor something my dad wanted for me.
A Paper Crane Project
I decided that I needed to maintain my daily routine but that I didn’t want to distance my thoughts from Dad’s challenging battle ahead. At a friend’s suggestion, I started making origami paper cranes. Like my dad was committed to his recovery, I committed myself to one crane every day until he was cancer-free and finished with his treatment.
Everyday, as I folded, I allowed myself a few minutes to reflect, cry, scream or be silent. It helped me to experience these emotions but maintain a positive and productive focus. After a few weeks of making cranes and sharing my story through my blog, Facebook and Twitter, I began to connect with other people my age, struggling to cope with their own parent’s serious illness.
The cranes became a gateway for me to talk about my dad’s diagnosis with myself, others in the cancer community, and even my dad. As he is recovering from his final chemo treatment, he’s already thinking of ways to continue connecting with others through our crane project. These cranes will continue to be a sign of encouragement, reflection and love for my dad and our whole family. I can’t wait to begin sharing them with other families, too.
Coping through Creativity
Have you faced a health event, whether a caregiver, personally or as a friend and used creativity to cope with what was occurring? If so, we’d love to hear your stories, see your photos and see what you have to share. Please provide your experiences, thoughts and photos in the comments section below and show everyone how you coped through creativity.
Also, if you’d like to hear more about Katrina’s father, Jim, and his health journey, check out his previous blog post about receiving a after his cancer diagnosis.