Christmas Special Edition: Empowering Cancer Ward Patients with a Smile – Inspiring Story of Rock Artist Elena Marisol Gomez of RockStreet Collective
Elena only began her artistic journey at the beginning of this year. As an oncology nurse at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto - Ontario, Canada, Elena embraced her art and craft exercises as a form of escaping from the stress and emotional toll that come with nursing people when they are at their most vulnerable.
"I find the act of painting the rock is almost like meditation. It’s therapeutic.", she says.
More recently Elena began offering her rock creations to her cancer challenged patients. "In the back of my mind, I always thought it would be neat to give my painted rocks to patients but I wasn't sure how it would be perceived".
But one day, a young patient "was having a really bad day”. Elena went to her locker, grabbed a painted rock and offered it by saying: "If I'm sad, I use this to become centred. It helps me. Maybe it can help you."
The response was metamorphic. "I didn't expect it", says Elena, still surprised months later. "Her sadness turned to happiness".
Since then on, Elena continued to offer painted rocks to her patients. As Pearlina Dawes, Nurse Manager at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre says: "Elena is using her hobby to touch the lives of other people”. Bob Stein whose wife was also gifted with a wonderful painted rock mentions: “Elena’s gift (n.a. A rock painted with the words “You are strong”) really warmed our hearts. When you're going through a tough situation, you really appreciate people doing things for you."
Many patients have benefited from such acts of kindness. Even these days, to celebrate the Christmas holidays, Elena is painting more than 50 rocks, one for each of the patients in the cancer wards!
Elena’s rocks embody astonishing mandala designs or inspirational messages such as Hope, Love and You are strong. With each of her rocks, Elena has the power to change pain into a smile, despair into hope, sadness into strength.
To this, Elena kindly responds: "When they find it meaningful, it makes it more meaningful to me."
I will end Elena’s beautiful story with her amazing discourse. For this special edition I only asked her this: What is your biggest dream? What would you like to achieve in the New Year, not just for your patients, but for YOURSELF?
“My biggest dream and wish is to achieve unconditional love, happiness, and inner peace. This is my ultimate goal. I want my soul to feel content. I want to feel full of joy and love. I think that by helping my family, friends, and others and by being a productive member of society I can achieve all these. Helping others in any way that I can always makes my soul feel full. Rock Painting is one activity that has helped me to do this and I am very grateful.
Also, my husband always says how awesome it would be to just move to some tropical place. He wants a fruit stand. He says we can sell fruit and rocks :) . I picture us being on the beach. I always think how amazing this would be. That's my dream ”
Credit offered to UHN Canada whose story about Elena served as a source of information for this article.
- Christine Onward