Art Journal Update

Let me say it straight up, I’m not a daily art journaller, I’m lucky if I manage one art journal page a week. I do write in a journal every day but it is just writing with bits and bobs stuck in that remind me of the day or cards I have been sent by friends. My art journals are for experimenting in and sometimes I can start a piece and not finish it until weeks later. Anyway, here are some of my art journal pages from the last 3-4 months; they are mostly faces, and the text around them are mostly quotes or lyrics from my favourite songs. Lots of inspiration and influence from Effy Wild and Tamara Laporte…thank you ladies xxx

Art journal pages

Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness – 4th April 2014

Some Facts About Metastatic Breast Cancer

  1. Breast cancer can be treated but it can not be cured, despite the myth that is projected by the media. The main reason is because there is a chance (approximately 1 in 3) that it will recur (come back) and will have spread to other parts of the body. If you are lucky, it won’t come back. Unfortunately, the younger you are, the higher the chance of it recurring. It also means that finding the cancer early does not guarantee a cure or a higher chance of survival.
  2. Metastatic breast cancer is a stage of breast cancer where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. It is also known as secondary breast cancer.
  3. Usually metastatic breast cancer is diagnosed some time after the primary breast cancer (the cancer that is in the breast)…that can be months or years (mine was 9 years after my first diagnosis). Sometimes it is diagnosed at the same time as the primary breast cancer or on rare occasions before the primary breast cancer has been diagnosed.
  4. There are a range of treatments for metastatic breast cancer (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery) but unlike treatments for most illnesses, which focus on making you better, treatments for metastatic breast cancer focus on managing the disease, so you can actually feel ill due to the treatment. Often it is a balancing act in order to maintain some quality of life.
  5. Only 5% of funding for breast cancer research is devoted to metastatic breast cancer, which is rather disgusting given that it is the one that kills.

Why have a separate awareness day for metastatic breast cancer? Because we are living with this disease day in, day out, going from scan to scan, usually in three-month gaps, struggling with pain, fatigue, depression and debilitating side effects of treatment, constantly hoping the current treatment will keep the disease at bay until the next breakthrough drug comes along. This is a very different reality than the one painted by the media and, to a lesser degree, the medical profession and some charities, who tend to depict breast cancer as the “good” cancer to get. Sorry, but there is no such thing as “good” cancer!

Hospital

Superficial Radiotherapy

Today I went for my first appointment for superficial radiotherapy. Superficial radiotherapy is “the use of exact, carefully measured doses of radiation to treat cancer. The treatment machine produces medium to low energy x-rays, and these x-rays are directed at the site of the tumour (cancer) in order to destroy abnormal cells”.

Bus

This treatment is to try and shrink the tumour under my arm (a.k.a Sweaty Betty), it won’t be for treating other tumours in my body. Today was about talking through what would be involved, drawing on the area to be treated and me signing the consent form, so no actual treatment was done today. The treatment is done at Essex County Hospital in Colchester and will last 5 days, starting this coming Thursday. I have had radiotherapy before, as part of my treatment for primary breast cancer over 10 years ago; that was also done at this hospital and lasted 15 days. I didn’t suffer too much with that treatment, but this time they will be radiating damaged and puckered skin, and it is in an awkward part of my body, under the arm.

Train

Anyway, I came home with an interesting mandala drawing under my arm, I found a craft shop between the hospital and the train station, and the sun was shining.

Tomorrow will be a difficult day, as my consultant wants to discuss my last scan results in more detail; they found something that wasn’t showing in previous scans, in the “tummy area”. I’m not ready for the disease to have progressed but then I never will be. Unfortunately, metastatic cancer doesn’t involve “getting better”, it involves “getting worse”.

All photos taken with an iPhone

Art Abandonment

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been participating in a project which involves abandoning your art in random public places. I came across the project at the end of last year and promised myself I would have a go at this as soon as I could in 2014.

Art Abandonment

And I did, and I get such enjoyment from it! I’ve been leaving my mini canvases on pub tables, on park benches, on shelves in shops, in car parks, in hospital and train station toilets, as well as pinning them on fences. The thrill is abandoning the art piece and not getting caught!

Art Abandonment

If you want to know more about the project, please visit here. There is also an Art Abandonment Facebook page.

(All photos taken with an iPhone)

CT Scan Results

I know I have talked before about scan results…the frustration of waiting…and then the “trying to understand” the results. Today was a CT scan result day, which involved an appointment with my oncologist.

It was slightly different than previous scan results because this one was supposed to ascertain how successful the radiofrequency lung ablation had been (the lung procedure I had had in January – see here for more details), in simple terms had the electrodes zapped the little buggers in my lungs? Except it didn’t…the results didn’t ascertain anything…they were inconclusive. Apparently this isn’t uncommon, the lungs take a while to heal, there is scarring and swelling…so I will need another CT scan in two months, and if that is inconclusive, a PET scan.

I’m sitting there thinking “okay, I can deal with this, blah, blah, blah” while deep inside there’s a lot of pent up emotion, churning around and having a real problem with the word “inconclusive”. You see, each time I have a hospital appointment, I get stressed, I can’t help it, I try and distract myself (today I left two bits of art as gifts to unsuspecting recipients – see the Art Abandonment Project here), I try and mentally prepare for the best and the worst case scenarios, BUT how do you prepare for the “we don’t know” scenario? Because you spend so much time fretting (whether or not it is in the front of your brain or not, you are still doing it) in the lead up to these appointments, when you get a result like this, a “frustrating, in the middle, not sure” one, it takes quite a while to come down emotionally…indeed I often feel the need to do something rather extreme the moment I leave the oncologist’s consulting room…such as screaming very loudly, or punching the first person I see, or collapsing on the floor and crying uncontrollably! But I don’t, I just hold Mark’s hand, walk back to the car, drive home, go to bed, pull the duvet over my head and wish it was all a bad dream.

So in two months time we go through the whole palaver of that process again -

  • …waiting for the CT scan appointment,
  • …arranging an appointment for a cannula to be fitted on the same day (I have to have the high contrast dye and they can’t inject me directly because I have crap veins),
  • …going to have the cannula fitted and hoping the receptionist has told someone you are there,
  • …having your arm put in a bucket of very hot water,
  • …having sharp things stuck in your arm, usually several times,
  • …going to the CT scan waiting room and drinking yukky white stuff,
  • …waiting and waiting,
  • …having the actual scan (which actually takes about 15 minutes),
  • …hoping that someone has arranged a results appointment with your oncologist (although last time I arranged it myself and I probably will next time),
  • …and finally waiting for the results appointment.

But let’s take some “positives” (I know Lesley, don’t faint!) from today:

(a) Nothing has changed, which is good (most of the time) in cancer world!

(b) I know no more than I did yesterday…I have no new information to freak myself out with!

(c) I am still an impatient little shit!

P.S. Oh yes, I might be starting radiotherapy next week at Colchester if they have a free slot…it will be a 5 day course (consecutive)…this is the superficial type which will target the lump under my arm, at best it will shrink it.  I know that it will be a “good” thing to have, but all I can think of is the pain it is likely to cause, the hassle of getting to Colchester (I don’t drive) and the fact that I am really pig sick of hospitals.

100 Happy Days

I am taking part in the 100 Happy Days project. I’m taking a “happy” photo each day, with my iPhone or iPad, for a consecutive 100 days…my definition of “happy” may differ from yours, but that’s okay, and it covers a wide range, from having a fabulous day out to just being able to have a nap in the afternoon! My photos are being posted on Instagram and Facebook, and also here. I’m finding it quite therapeutic to do, as there is always something to feel good about or just smile at, even if the whole day is horrible!

100 Happy Days

January – Life Book 2014

My goal for this year is to keep expanding and developing my creativity, so I signed up to Life Book 2014. This is a mixed media course, organised by Tamara Laporte (Willowing Arts), which runs throughout the year and consists of weekly classes taught by a range of different artists.

Life Book 2014

We have just completed the lessons for January, so I thought I’d share a few peeks at what we’ve done so far. As well as Tamara, we’ve been taught by Micki Wilde, Carla Sonheim, Kelly Hoernig and Marieke Blokland. You know, I am so so so glad I signed up for this…I’m not only getting to learn from wonderful artist teachers, but I am making lots of new online friends :)

Life Book January 2014

365 Project – December

Wow, I did it – a whole 365 just using my iPad and iPhone! December was a tough month but I did lots of art, my eldest came home for the holidays and I saw my best friend before the year ended. You can see the individual images here.

December

Painting Faces

The last few weeks I have been a bit preoccupied with painting faces. In the past, drawing or painting a face was always difficult for me, because I strived to make it look realistic, which was a bit dumb really…(a) I have a camera to take photos of people, and (b) since when does my other “art” look realistic?

Painting Faces

Anyhow, I have been doing a few of Tamara Laporte’s classes and have got a lot more confident in creating faces. If you haven’t taken any courses by Tamara, I strongly recommend her. She offers a free class “Art, Heart & Healing” which is great for getting started.

Here are a few of the faces I’ve been creating in my art journals…maybe next year I’ll be brave enough to do some on canvas…

01
02
03
04
05

365 Project – November

Ahhh I mixed up my day numbering this month so this compilation has taken a lot longer than it normally does! Anyhow, a mixed month of waiting for things (boo) and arty stuff (doing faces) and meeting lovely Click Collective ladies (hooray). You can see the individual images here.

November