Health Beat: Creative coping improves cancer recovery

Health Beat: Creative coping improves cancer recovery

TAMPA, Fla. - 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 said.

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.

Dr. Jacob Gardinier Scott, radiation oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center, said finding ways to cope can be helpful for patients.

"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," Scott said.

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.

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 the fighter tattoo.

"Stamping my arm was something I could control," said Dejong, 28. "There were so many things outside of my control."

Dejong's inked arm has caught on, and now people all over the world are wearing the word "fighter" on their body or t-shirt.

"I got this as a reminder to fight every single day," she explained.

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

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

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