Beyond SMART: Soon-to-be Massage Therapy Graduate Shares Poem

Published on September 26, 2014 by arothstein

Broadview University students, staff and family members at the Creative Quill event

This month, the Broadview University-Boise campus celebrated soon-to-be massage therapy graduate Michelle Fenn at its Creative Quill Celebration. Created to give students a medium through which they can share their meaningful experiences and creative and intellectual talents, the Creative Quill journal is a way for students from Broadview University, Globe University, the Minnesota School of Business and the Institute of Production and Recording to showcase their original fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. Fenn’s poem, “The Fight Against Cancer,” was published in the Gala 2014 Creative Quill.

“The poem started out as a joke for a Professional Communications I SMART [Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Time-bound] Goal,” said Fenn. Her instructor, Sally Cleary, said that if she was to write a funny SMART goal, she would dress up as Elvis and go to Las Vegas. Fenn replied to Cleary that for her, that’s like writing a poem about cancer.

Diagnosed with colon cancer in 2009 and breast cancer in 20011, Fenn’s cancers are considered to be remission, but the April 2011 discovery of genetic mutations in her body keep her from being classified as entirely cancer-free. “Multiple people told me to draw or write about it,” said Fenn. “So the poem started as a funny ha ha, but when I was typing the poem, I found out that I had three more growths so it was no longer a joke when writing it.”

At the Creative Quill Celebration, Fenn desired to also celebrate caregivers of loved ones who either have been lost to cancer or survived it. “I wanted to deflect things away from me because there are people that have lost love ones or had it more difficult than me.”

Michelle Fenn and her parents Larry and Cheri Dekker

Fenn invited her parents, Larry and Cheri Dekker, to speak about their experiences being caregivers. Cheri Dekker, also a cancer survivor, had breast cancer in 1999 and is now cancer free. “I’d rather go through cancer myself than see loved ones go through it,” said Dekker. “I saw a lot of people with difficulties, and I was grateful my case was not that extreme.” Larry Dekker added, “You fight the fight; it wasn’t easy but doable. Michelle has been very brave.”

In addition to her parents speaking and Fenn reading her poem at the event, she also recognized the efforts of fellow classmate Meloney Clifton who raised $500 throughout the quarter for Adrien Aicher‘s family. On July 15, 2014, Aicher passed away from epithelioid angiosarcoma in the left sinus above his mouth. Clifton appreciated being included in the event. “It was more of a bonding experience of people who had gone through cancer, caregivers and family members,” said Clifton. “It was really awesome.”

After graduating from Broadview University-Boise, Fenn will be doing rehabilitative and hospice massage on adults with ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, and PTSD at Massage Central Clinic. She also plans to open a therapeutic massage business for kids.

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