Coming Full Circle: Connecting through Canopy
When I first met Ann Christensen, it was early in the morning; she was perched at the kitchen counter at Canopy, and though she had been given a breast cancer diagnosis just a couple days before, she seemed very much at peace and focused. She had lists of physicians that needed to be seen and appointments that needed to be made.
She had a separate list of questions for Linda Nelson and me. She had her bearings and was ready to fight, and it’s how I will always think of her: a woman with quiet strength, incredible focus, and a deep faith. After we had talked for several hours, I walked her out during an ongoing support group. When I asked if she wanted to stay, she said, “Oh no, that isn’t really for me.”
Flash forward one year later, and she is done with treatment, regularly attends our Healing Art classes, and is one of the co-leaders of Canopy’s new breast cancer support group, The Nest. Each month she positively impacts the lives of people battling cancer. It is truly beautiful when things come full circle.
When Canopy started this group, I approached Kelly Hull because of her passion for counseling services and her experience in the industry, but we knew we needed a survivor. Someone who had been where these women are. Someone who still is. We both immediately thought of Ann, and I will admit I wasn’t sure she would do it, but she accepted without hesitation.
After the first few meetings, I sat down with her to ask her what made the change for her. Why now? Her answer was simple: she wanted to be a part of creating an environment for people to “find their person.”
She said, “When I was diagnosed and going through treatment, I didn’t want cancer to be my entire identity. I was still the same person, and I had the same passions and interests. I refused to let cancer define me, BUT I still needed someone who had walked the steps I walked. I needed someone who truly understood. My friends, family, and other survivors were an incredible help to me as well, but people who had fought this fight could greater understand the highs, and truly sympathize with the lows. Canopy provides the environment and opportunity to create those relationships, and I want to be a part of connecting people.”
The Nest meets the last Tuesday of every month. There is always space to process feelings and situations, but they also discuss stress management techniques, how to find encouragement, and even do art projects while meeting. The next meeting is May 22nd. If you’re interested in participating simply email Canopy’s manager, Amanda Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Canopy at 713.897.5939.