Sunset over the beach

Hollings Comfort Corner

Hollings offers our Comfort Corner as a reflective page where our patients, survivors, caregivers and staff can share tips and art that help them cope. Cancer is more than a physical diagnosis. It affects us on many planes. Here is a collection of pieces that may bring comfort to families and connect you with important resources we have here at Hollings.

Finding grace in the grief: Coping with terminal cancer diagnosis

Dawn Brazell in her wedding dress on the beach with her mom Sara Cutler

Navigating a cancer diagnosis is difficult no matter the time of year, but the holidays can be an especially tough time for cancer patients and caregivers, particularly for those who are enduring a losing battle.

There are bright spots and moments of peace to be found too. Dawn Brazell, Hollings communications director, shares her experience of caring for her mom as they try to come to terms with what lies ahead.

Read about their journey

Send us how you cope

Whether you are part of the Hollings team or a patient, survivor or caregiver, we want to hear how you cope. Share your best tips to help others by submitting your comments, artwork or photos.

Submit your tips

Caregivers and family

Caring for a loved one battling cancer is hard — for some, it can also be isolating. According to a 2016 study from the National Alliance for Caregiving, 50% of caregivers surveyed were juggling caring for a loved one with a full-time job, and 50% of caregivers reported high emotional stress stemming from caregiving. At Hollings, we want to recognize, thank, and provide resources to caregivers who are helping their loved one along their cancer journey.


The holidays bring up all kinds of emotions when you’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis. One of my favorite quotes that I often use with patients is ‘Be where your feet are.’ It is easy to get lost in what has happened or what is to come, but it is really important to be present in the now.

Dr. Wendy Balliet, Hollings therapist

Dr. Balliet's coping tips
Dr. Wendy Balliet
Liza Patterson holds her daughter in her arms on the beach

I Will Survive

Lymphoma survivor Liza Patterson details her mental health struggles after beating cancer and Hollings psychologist Dr. Wendy Balliet shares insight on this all-too-common issue.

Episode & Transcript

Reader submissions

Dr. Kristin Neff is an expert and researcher on self-compassion. Her Self-Compassion Exercises website has a lot of great information. It gives a list of self-compassion meditations, there is even one in the list specifically for caregivers, but all of the meditations could be used by patients or caregivers. I also personally love reading mindfulness-based poetry and the UCSD Center for Mindfulness has put together a Mindful Poetry list.
Submitted by MUSC art therapist Kristen Rudy – 12/16/21

Book corner

In her book "Everything Happens For A Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved," Kate Bowler tells the story of her stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis and how it forced her to reevaluate her outlook on life and change her mindset that prosperity and good fortune just take determination and positive thinking. She was also featured in a New York Times article.

"We’re learning right now in isolation what interdependence feels like and what a gift it is. And the more we’re apart, the more we realize how much we need each other. We’re allowed to be like beautifully, stupidly needy right now. We’re allowed to FaceTime people and be like, I feel like a mess, and all I want to do is be loved."
— Kate Bowler, author


Snapshot spotlight

Sunset looking down a valley in Iceland

“I like to get out in nature and walk to balance the stress in life. I also like photography, so it’s a good way to tap into wonder and creativity — natural antidotes to stress. I find I’m a better caregiver when I do this.”
Submitted by Dawn Brazell – 12/15/21

Seen & heard

Thom Schmenk with book

Good reads

No one wants cancer. Thom Schmenk sure didn’t. But he turned an otherwise negative situation into a meaningful experience, authoring two books, celebrating a five-year cancer-free anniversary and raising money for sarcoma research at Hollings.

Schmenk’s first book, "Living Life 90 Days at a Time: A Sarcoma Survivor’s Journey," details his cancer story and gives tips to other cancer patients and survivors, which include:

  • Have an advocate – they’re your clear mind.
  • Try to understand people’s reactions – they might not always be what you expect.
  • Get a second opinion.
  • Stay positive, and surround yourself with positive people.
  • Wake up glad that you’re still here.
  • Have a goal, and try to accomplish something every day.
Tammy Flovin playing guitar

Recommended playlist

At Hollings, we believe in the holistic care of our patients. It’s why we offer yoga classes and art and music therapy as tools to help our patients cope. Here, Tammy Flovin, a board-certified music therapist in the Arts in Healing program at MUSC, shares one of her favorite playlists to energize, promote mindfulness and decrease anxiety.

  1. The Piano Guys: “A Thousand Years” – Christina Perri cover (4:31)
  2. The Piano Guys: “Home” – Phillip Phillips cover (4:35)
  3. The Piano Guys: “Paradise” – Coldplay (Peponi) cover (4:25)
  4. David Lanz: “Variations on a Theme” – from Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major (9:52)
  5. David Lanz: “Cristofori’s Dream” (6:10)
  6. Amavi Music: “Hallelujah” – Instrumental cover, piano, violin, cello (5:01)
  7. Amavi Music: “You Raise Me Up” – violin, cello, piano – trio cover instrumental (4:07)
  8. Yuri Sazonoff: “Awakening Senses” (12:10)
  9. Deuter: “Kindred Spirit” (8:19)
  10. Eric Harringer & John Paul Lacey: “Cry of the Earth” (10:09)

Patient & caregiver resources

At Hollings, we understand caring for a patient extends to all aspects of life — from physical to mental. Hollings is committed to offering an array of resources to patients and caregivers to help them along their cancer journey.