Living Legacies

Images into Words, Words into Images: a different kind of dialog

Remember the phenomenon of Pen Pals?

We are basing Living Legacies on that old fashioned concept, linking cancer survivors from different cities, states and countries.

We are using visual arts and creative writing to begin an extraordinary conversation about what it is like to live with cancer.

Below are examples of our very first Living Legacies : East Coast - West Coast Dialog


...a crystal

Cancer-is-a-crystalGrowing slowly in my being
Unknown to me
Found by instruments
Unknown to me, in the beginning

And the surgeons are miners
Reaching with robots
Using remote controls
Searching grabbing cutting
Leaving the bed rock that is me
Stripped, bare, changed
An almost empty cavern
Laced now with pain and braces

Worried about unleashing other
Layers of distress
Wondering if the searchers
Will have to dig again
For other clusters of unknown worth
JE – Ovarian and Breast Cancer abyss
...a dance
...a cockroach infestation
...a Wuss
...a Diva
...a STOP sign

The idea was not to simply illustrate but to soulfully respond.


When Heidi received the writings from Sharon’s students, she folded them in half and in half again. Then she placed them in a clear zip-lock bag. She could not wait to distribute them, but how? Randomly, she thought, always a fan of serendipity. As she pulled the zip-lock bag out of her supply basket announcing that the words had arrived, she asked everyone to take a deep breath, quiet themselves and set an intention to select the writing that they needed to receive.

On the east coast, Healing Icons®  guided participants to create visually from their cancer experience. On the west coast, Dr. Sharon Bray offered expressive writing exercises. The writers sent their work to the artists who responded visually to their words. The artists sent their creations to the writers who responded accordingly.  The two creative processes wove a stunning tapestry of feelings and connection.


In 2014 and 2015 this series was sponsored by the Center for Colon Cancer Research of the University of South Carolina.  We thank them for their support.



“The primary benefit of practicing art, whether well or badly, is that it enables one’s soul to grow.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr

Discovering depth in the smallest of things, we experience the resiliency of the human spirit. Healing Icons offers support and community at all stages of the healing process.  Our classes offer art as healing for adult oncology patients. A family member or caregiver may attend with the survivor.




Interested in sponsoring this in your area?

Contact us for details.