Over the past couple of months, as I have been going through this whole ordeal of being diagnosed with breast cancer, and now approaching my surgery date on November 1st, one of the things that has been repeatedly said to me, is that people are surprised how positive my attitude is.
For the most part, I agree. Once I got over having heard that I have cancer, and got over the thought of losing a breast, the only real option, in my opinion, is to focus on what happens after. I refuse to live my life in misery because of this, and I do have that choice.
Do I have some fears about this? Sure. I am more afraid though of the actual surgery, than I am of dying of cancer. I am not even that afraid of pain after the surgery, though no one likes pain. Pain is temporary, as is the cancer. It's the actual surgery itself that scares me. My grandmother died on the table when I was 17 years old, and even though I know intellectually that they were operating on her heart, whereas they won't be going anywhere near my life dependant systems, I have that fear. Irrational, I know.
Once the surgery is over, I need to move on, and I need to live my life. I have prepared myself as best as I can, finding photos of post operative reconstructive surgeries, and reading about various patients' experiences. I have looked at the scars, I have cried, and then I have told myself that I can do this.
I have previously joked in this blog about how my paintings have had boobs showing up in them. Of course, I have had the surgery very much on my mind. Keeping my sense of humour has helped me keep things in perspective.
Somewhere along the line, when I was doing the found objects projects, I found some of those plastic egg containers that you can put toys or treats inside of, and once again I was thinking boobs.
I started a painting - one that was my way of saying goodbye to my breast. When my teacher saw it, he suggested a different approach, saying I didn't need to be quite so literal. He suggested "lots of feathers". So, I have done the art pieces both ways, because I really wanted to express this the way I originally saw it in my minds eye, but also thought that the other approach was worth trying as well.
Using the egg cups as breasts, but also as symbols of renewal, I gave them golden wings using gold leaf.
With Golden Wings To Fly
16" x 20" Acrylic and plastic on stretched canvas
Next, I used found feathers from the lakeshore, and the remaining pink egg cups to create another way of saying it.
Thinking Beyond Pink
16" x 20" feathers and plastic on stretched canvas
It has been suggested to me that I should put myself in a place where I can be an example to other women going through this. To help them to have the same positive attitude that I have. I am not sure how I can do that, or even if I am the greatest of examples. I cannot choose their attitude for them. But I hope that maybe my work can show them at least one way of dealing with it. Maybe in this way, I can help send light into the darkness of someones heart, somehow, somewhere.