On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life goes on

After chemotherapy this morning Steve and I attended a fundraiser for a family whose young mother died recently of cancer leaving two small children. That's a mind boggling grief for youngsters to bear and I can only wish the best for all concerned.

I did not know the woman. In fact, I don't even know the family's name. I was simply glad to participate in the luncheon, was in congenial company and had a good time. We all did. It wasn't that we didn't care, the very fact that we showed up meant that we did indeed care. But life does go forward and most of us knew few members of the affected family.

I'm not so sure I like the idea of life going on. When I die I want the planet to fall off its axis, for the world to stop, for everybody to notice that I'M NOT THERE anymore and things are no longer the same.

Furthermore, I don't want to miss out on anything and if the world continues that means I'm missing out. This just doesn't set well with me at all. I do not want people to go out and have a good time at a fundraiser on my family's behalf. Nor do I want them to be overcome with grief. I want them to all turn to statues, never to move again, thinking about how they all miss me and they'll just stand still for all eternity so that I won't miss out on any of their activities and all the things we like to do together.

(sigh) I clearly do not totally approve of the way this world was set up.

In the meantime, I'm immersed in the simple accordion style sketchbooks we made in class last night. I've started working in one and I've upped the ante. I have rules. I tried to explain to the students that art journalists have rules but don't always recognize them as such. One woman only fills the right hand side of the pages. She's right-handed and that's more accessible for her. It's also a rule.

My rules for this new format are still evolving. Because there are only 15 pages I know that I can complete two each month - each with a simple ribbon tie - not only one as I proposed earlier. One reason is because one of my rules is that all 15 pages do not have to be drawn. In fact, the final page for each book is a to-do list, all that I hope to accomplish in each two week period.

I only have to stay focused for those 15 days, then I can move on with a new book. The text blocks are either Fabriano Artistico or Arches 140 lb. watercolor so I can do anything I want with them and know that nothing will bleed or crinkle. I like crisp edges so I'm taping the pages and preparing them with watercolor backgrounds before I start. The first page is for the date and the last page is for the to-do list. The remaining 13 pages -- see how fast I whittled that down? -- can be for absolutely anything -- watercolor, sketches, collage, writing and note-taking and shopping lists, zentangle and newly discovered recipes and clippings from the newspaper. Fifteen pages with rules like that should fill a book quickly. And then I can move on.

There's also sort of an unspoken rule that I will stay alive to complete the to-dos on the last page and that I will live to start the next book with its new to-do list too and I can't leave anything unfinished. I may have found the secret to immortality here, I only have to make hundreds of these little accordion sketchbooks, each with a different fabric, and take two weeks to fill each one before moving on to all the things I got to do and didn't miss out on.

The fundraiser upset me, you can tell, can't you? I keep thinking of those young children now growing up without a mother.


  1. I like your idea for immortality... a long line of sketchbooks that must be completed... and to do lists.. I make lists for everything.

  2. OH...I'm loving these accordian books!

  3. I love your sketchbooks! I am sorry that the fund raiser upset you so. Ya, I want my family to dissolve and not function without me either when my time comes - sort of.

  4. Your discussion is another reminder that Every Day Matters. You have opened my eyes to understanding your treatment and a view into working with troubled kids. You care so much.
    Thanks for the insight and inspiration.

  5. The fundraiser and your cold. Have you had a whooping cough revaccination? You really don't want to get that and it's bad I understand, in California.

    I LOVE how you whittled down the necessary pages! Lol, we all need an escape hatch and knowing you don't have to do all fifteen is one.


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