Woman Battling Cancer Gives Back

By: Amaka Ubaka Email
By: Amaka Ubaka Email

An Omaha woman battling terminal cancer is using an unusual art form to help give back to others.

Peggy Gleason is no stranger to challenges.

"I can tell you the day that the doctor called and said he'd discovered a lump in my left breast," says Gleason.

At 79, she's overcome two types of cancer in six years, and is now battling lung cancer. But paper cutting has helped her get through it all.

"I didn't go into shock or didn't go, 'Oh my god, this happened to me.' I went straight over to my paper, drew a design of a heart and there's some crumpling points in my heart. I drew the picture and I cut it. [...] The paper cutting just takes me away, just like that old saying 'Calgon Take Me Away', that's what it does for me."

Gleason draws her designs in pencil, frames them, and then uses an exacto knife to cut out each and every hole.

She says she never times how long it takes for her to cut any of her designs, except one. She calls it her masterpiece. It's a checkered, teardrop butterfly and it took her 49 hours to cut.

Gleason can cut any design asked of her. In fact, "the more intricate it is the better I like it," says Gleason.

When she's not paper cutting, she knits hats for other cancer patients.

"Anyone that is losing their hair or lost their hair - had chemo and lost their hair - I'm there. I'm going to crochet you a hat," says Gleason.

She lives by the motto "busy hands, busy mind" and hopes that giving back to others will help her cope with what may come.

"I don't know why, but i don't need to know why. What am i going to do?"

Gleason loves what she does so much, she's written a book on paper cutting. It was never mass-published, but she says she has given copies to her family.

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