Carol Ross Edmonston

Carol Ross Edmonston

There are many ways in which we learn to cope with the stresses and anxieties of cancer or indeed any serious disease. Some people find journalling helps, others art or meditation. For Carol Ross Edmonston who survived breast cancer, not once, but twice, the art of doodling gave her the means to creatively learn how to reduce stress and anxiety. Carol’s story appeared in Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Soul. She has written her own books on the subject and teaches workshops. Information about her books and workshops is available on her website: Carol explains how while we cannot always control what comes into our lives, we can choose how to respond to it.


“While I didn’t choose to have breast cancer, I did choose to not let the diagnosis define how I would experience that medical adventure. I’ve come to realize that everything that comes my way has the potential to transform me if I am willing to embrace and surrender to the unknown. The trick is in believing that in the heart of challenges exists all the faith, courage and strength needed to overcome whatever is presented. I remember those initial feelings of anger and fear that flooded every pore of my being when I was first informed of the diagnosis breast cancer. In one quick moment in time, my life had been turned upside down and I felt very scared. While I knew it was important to acknowledge those feelings, I also knew how imperative it was to transcend them and embrace this diagnosis with a positive attitude…the choice was mine.

In order to help me as I wandered through this time I began to immerse myself in art, something I rarely did. While impatiently waiting for medical appointments I’d take out a pen and paper and begin to “doodle” in an effort to reduce the anxiety and worry that I sometimes felt stirring from within. The more I doodled, the more relaxed I became. When I returned home I continued with this art form as it provided me with many hours of relaxation and enjoyment. I created one guideline for myself…to begin and end each doodle outline at the same point, without lifting the pen off the paper, and complete the outline in 5-7 seconds. I wanted to genuinely experience a trust in the creative process as it unfolded in a spontaneous moment in time. In a short time, this art form became a profound spiritual practice for me…an open-eyed meditation. While I had no idea what the finished product would look like, I began to see that when I surrendered to the process, there were never any mistakes! This free, spontaneous expression always created something of beauty. I began to see the correlation between this art form and life itself, for both are about immersing oneself in a sacred journey between two points, and no matter where one travels a beautiful adventure awaits. There are no wrong turns. The only mistake is in forgetting to slow down long enough in order to connect with the treasures that are right in front of, and within us.

Over the years, I learned to embrace the unexpected with a sense of trust, having faith that I receive no more than I truly have the capacity to handle. I discovered the more I’m able to travel and roam within the stillness and peace of the present moment, the more connected I become to the essence of who I truly am, for within that space exists all the courage, strength, faith and trust that I could ever need. I understood how transient these outer events were, and at the same time experienced the healing power of the human spirit.

The choice to embrace this diagnosis as a gift came with the knowledge that everything is fine, just as presented; for nothing happens to us…just for us.”

Read more here, including some doodle instructions.