I was once very active in pursuing a career in theatre. Upon graduating from Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX), I moved to Little Rock, AR, and went on tour with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. I also worked as a “traveling actor” with the Arkansas Children’s Theatre. I then moved to Los Angeles to pursue the entertainment business where I had my first grand-mal seizure. After the third grand-mal seizure, my wife and I moved back to Little Rock as my seizures continued. I had over seventy seizures the year before my first brain surgery (2011). Although my seizures became more controlled, I continued having them after surgery. As a result, I underwent an additional procedure by having a Vagus Nerve Stimulator implanted in 2013. This, too, helped my seizures decrease, but they continued (although not as often). The following years have been challenging, but I found a focus to use these challenges in a positive manner. I attended an Applied Theatre workshop in Nashville, TN, under the direction of Dale Savidge, where I first learned about Drama Therapy. I continued this exploration at a Psychodrama workshop in Tupelo, MS, under the direction of John Rasbery.
Finally, I attended the 2014 North American Drama Therapy Association Conference in Yosemite, CA, and chose to move forward by enrolling in the Master of Arts program in Drama Therapy at Kansas State University (KSU). There are a variety of ways to describe Drama Therapy. My definition includes:
“Drama Therapy is an expressive and action-oriented therapy that focuses on the here-and-now. It combines theatre techniques with therapeutic principals, providing a hands-on opportunity for change and personal growth.”
– Peyton Welch, MA, RDT (Registered Drama Therapist)
I graduated with a Masters in Drama Therapy in August 2017 and relocated to Houston, TX in 2018. I became a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) in 2019. In addition to becoming an RDT, my life was changed once again with a new medical diagnosis of malignant, anaplastic ganglioglioma brain cancer (2019). This type of cancer is very rare, accounting for approximately 1 – 2% of all brain tumors. Since the diagnosis, I had a second brain surgery and received several sessions of radiation and MRI’s. Despite facing these additional trials, I consider myself a cancer THRIVER!
I’m very grateful for having two beneficial brain surgeries, but am I always “happy?” No! Does this mean I’m never afraid of what the future holds? No! Does this mean I’m not struggling with accepting the “C word?” No! So, how do I consider myself a cancer thriver? I continue moving forward even when I have fears, doubts, anxiety, “what if” questions and the list continues. I focus on the present moment. I pray. I count my blessings. I am thankful for all of the love and support I have from family (especially my wife!), friends and doctors. I try to be honest when I am scared. I run on a regular basis. I attend two cancer support groups and an epilepsy support group (that I established in The Woodlands, TX). I am learning that life is a journey. I don’t know when it will rain… snow… be cloudy…be sunny… what animals I may see…but it’s still a journey.
My goal is to accept where I am on this journey and trust my Guide as He leads me. For more information on being a cancer THRIVER, check out my additional website, Drama Therapy Cancer Thrivers. May we continue our journey of exploration and discovery together. And please remember…