The phone call was terrible; Thursday afternoon at my office, a new client in the waiting room, and the sentence "The biopsy came back Invasive Ductal Carcinoma; you have cancer." There was an intensely tearful weekend, a strangely positive appointment with a surgeon, and then BOOM surgery. Waking up from surgery brought with it the appearance of a doctor I didn't know and a whole bunch of wrong information that left me spinning. A couple of morphine and Ativan laced weeks later, I met with my medical oncologist for the first time.
As I listened to the treatment plan, risks and benefits of chemo, eventuality of radiation, the need for Herceptin and hormone repression measures, scheduled implantation of a chemotherapy port, appointments for baseline CT's / Bone Scans / MRI's / Cardiac Tests, layers and layers of prescription drugs to counteract chemotherapy side effects, and the recommendation for a complete hysterectomy, I felt myself standing precariously on the edge. But then the oncologist used the phrase "potentially curable cancer." What? I think she said it four or five times before it sunk in and I took the first deep breath in weeks.
I dove. Head first. Dark Waters, indeed. I touched the bottom before I began to rise, but eventually I broke the surface and found my way to edge of a new country. If you are a survivor, you know about this country. Some people call it the "new normal," but I tend to experience it as a place akin to Alice's Wonderland. But that's another painting.
I wear a lot of hats in life, encompassing a variety of roles and relationships. I am becoming more comfortable with the whole "cancer survivor" hat, even finding silver linings in unexpected places --- like adding artist to my self identity. "Blogger" hadn't really appealed to me until I began getting requests to talk about what lies behind my art. So I'm going to give it a try. If you have gotten to this page, you have probably noticed from my paintings that I am quite frank about my experiences. Some of the images are stark and difficult to look at. To me, beautiful is not the same as pretty. "Beautiful" encompasses complexity that can include pain, tragedy, and darkness. Therefore there can be a strange beauty present in stark emotional and experiential truth. I am a seeker of beauty within pain, and of the beauty that grows out of pain. If you are too, we'll get along just fine.