Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month-Help me Give Back?

On the right is Alisa Savoretti, founder of My Hope Chest, whom I met at the opening of F**K the big C! last month.



Own a signed print by me and help me raise $500---almost there, need a push---this October to help breast cancer survivors afford a reconstruction via My Hope Chest!
It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month----hence I'm aware of one of my two cancers and thankful for all positive happenings I got in its aftermath. Should you or your contacts be thinking of donating to a breast cancer cause, how about this one? :)



Time to give back! Will You help?
Available prints are on F**k the big C!

We made it! Thank You all! A check is in the mail to My Hope Chest! (Nov. 9)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Impressions of F**k the big C!


signing my pieces upon arrival at the eve-N-odd gallery, 9/7


NBC Daytime TV interview autocue, Gallerist Jennifer Kosharek and I were interviewed 9/8


NBC interviews F**K the Big C from William Evertson on Vimeo.



show at eve-N-odd


my pieces on the wall
Branka Djordjevic and Betty Esperanza's pieces on the wall


showtime!



opening night, at the end already .... I'm sitting next to the donations jar, for the postcard donations of the mini F**k the big C! mail art call I attached to this show. We raised $200 on opening night. Thank You all Participating Artists!

Raffi Darrow, volunteer at My Hope Chest and Alisa Savoretti, founder of My Hope Chest and me, in front of my pieces at the show. For each sold print, I will donate $40 to this NPO, focusing on funding Breast Reconstruction surgery for uninsured breast cancer survivors. They are the ONLY national organization providing this "final step in breast cancer treatment"Many Thanks go to my Seeking Kali collaborator and friend William Evertson for printing, preparing the prints, shipping, traveling to the show, hanging the show, assisting in every thinkable way, documenting and all his and his wife Karen's support!! I could not have done it without Bill! Love You Both!Press:
-daytimeonline.tv: Telling Cancer Where To Go
-St.Petersburg Times: defiant Art: F the big C by Lennie Bennett, 9/8.
-Creative Loafing, F**k the big C!
-All Events in St. Petersburg, F**k the big C!
-
The Tampa Bay Newspapers: Beacon, Leader, Bee, Just 4 Women by Lee Clark Zumpe, September 2011.


This is a section out of the Tampa Bay Newspapers: Beacon, Leader, Bee.


- The Island Reporter, October 2011 issue, p. 9 and p. 21.

-On eve-N-odd's blog 'Ria Vanden Eynde and My Hope Chest'.

-On Bill Evertson's blog: 'Post F**k Cancer'.

-On Caroline's Breast Cancer Blog: 'Creatively Coping'.

Purchase one of my pieces here and help me fund a reconstruction for a breast cancer survivor via My Hope Chest!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

F**k the Big C! Getting Packed!

Getting Ready, Getting Excited! Hope to see you there!

Next week I will be in FL opening the F**k the big C! (He)Art's Healing Power group art show at eve-N-odd gallery, 645 Central Ave #11, St. Petersburg, FL.

So why the F word? It's simple enough for me:
-I have no reason to be polite to cancer. It hasn't been courteous towards me, neither of the two times it struck. Using the F word in a show title can be educating. When we are confronted with our impotence, using expletives may help us vent our humongous frustration. The ** reflect the energy it's used with ;)
-Don't you find it heart wrenching how policies will allocate big funds to kill people off in conflicts and war while we have a hard time struggling to get funds for something life sustaining as cancer research?
-Wouldn't it be awesome if eradicating cancer from our bodies would be as simple as saying "F**k You Cancer"?
-I have cancer, bloody hell, I have two, three actually if you're counting types! One of then NOT under control and, well, are they ever? Still, they sure will not have my spirit as long as I'm breathing. They will not have me. That and mainly that is how I give (my) cancer(s) the middle finger.

F**K THE BIG C! is for all those who went through it, for all those who're going through it, for all those who live with it, and for all those who were taken from us by the disease.

Jennifer Kosharek, eve-N-odd gallerist and myself will be interviewed by NBC's local morning show Daytime ... this Thursday morning so please tune in! Check out the article in Creative Loafing HERE. Then I'll be at the eve-N-odd gallery Thursday 9/8, from 6-8 pm, 645 Central Ave. #11, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Delicious food catered by Courtside Grille! And some pink drink! I hope to see you there!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

painting2cancers for My Hope Chest at F**k the big C! September, eve-N-odd, St. Petersburg, FL

Poster for the F**k the big C! group show, free downlad via riavandeneynde.com

I organized a group show F**k the big C! with gallerist Jennifer Kosharek at her gallery eve-N-odd, 645 Central Avenue #11, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA in September. Art will include works by cancer survivors Betty Esperanza (Canada), Branka Djordjevic (Luxemburg) and myself, Ria Vanden Eynde (Belgium). F**k the big C! opens September 8 at 6pm with live performances and runs through September.

Donations go to local cancer support projects, including $40 of each of my prints sold to My Hope Chest, a Tampa based NPO helping uninsured breast cancer survivors afford breast reconstruction surgery. Signed prints (they're all on the above poster) will also be available for pre-order through summer here.

There is a Mail Artist Call attached to this show, mail artists can send a F**k the big C! 4×6 postcard to the gallery to be put up. Visitors can take one home in exchange for a donation ($5 suggested). The postcard donations go to the American Cancer Society Benjamin Mendick Hope Lodge in Tampa. Also, email a jpg of the card to fckthebigc@yahoo.com and they will be documented on the blog Art on the Road and fckthebigc.tumblr.com.

The show was the idea of Jennifer Kosharek, gallerist at eve-N-odd. She suggested doing a group show after we discussed sending my painting2cancers pieces to her gallery. I dreamt of donating part of my sales to a cancer support organization. Jennifer suggested I'd co-curate the show. So I contacted two of my cancer survivor artist friends, Branka Djordjevic (Luxemburg) and Betty Esperanza (Canada), who were immediately won over by the idea of doing a group show to raise awareness and inspire. We feel that although we are changed by going through cancer and so is our individual art making practice, we emerge as stronger women and artists. We feel enriched by the experience and are dedicated to Live our Art Life to the fullest. That's how we're giving cancer the middle finger and that's what inspired the show's title.

While I was browsing on the web and facebook for groups and pages that would allow us to post our event, I came across My Hope Chest and its founder Alisa Savoretti. They immediately struck a chord. When I was dxd with cancer I was doing research in Applied Ethics at the university on a voluntary basis, trying to get funded. Had I not been married, I would have been on my own and I would not have been able to get a bilateral reconstruction. At that time, I was reluctant to go through yet another surgery. I was even considering having the amputations and nothing else, thinking having breasts would not be so important ... It is huge! Having 2 cancers may have changed me. My thyroid cancer marker suggests that there is residue tissue that needs to be monitored and I carry quite some lines on my body. Yet, when I look in the mirror, when I look at my new breasts, I see a radiant woman. That's what having a reconstruction did for me. Wouldn't it be wonderful if my donations could help do that for another woman?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Inner landscape # 17-Confusion

Digital print, 8 by 10 inches.

On Monday I went to my annual thyroid cancer check up. Summer 2010, they had done a thyrogen test and my Tg was 3.5. Not where we want it. There have been 3 such tests and my Tg sort of fluctuates up and down. Made a seasoned oncologist say that I had absolutely no reason whatsoever to think there would be anything lingering after my thyroidectomy and a firm dose of 100mCi RAI. Almost deridingly so. In my face. While I was sitting in front of him just out of breast cancer (my second cancer) surgery. Bilateral amputations for a cancer they didn't expect at all to be lingering. Anyway. Bygones. This last time my Tg is up. My ultrasounds are clear. No reason for panic. Must keep an eye on. That summer they didn't call me to tell me my results. So I went in for them and to ask what the new follow up strategy was going to be like. I had made a special appt for that. Hey?! ... They said they wouldn't do regular thyrogen testing, and wait&see what the marker does while surpressed. That was a bit surprising, since anyone I know with comparable cancer givens has yearly thyrogen tests done, ultrasounds and some have scans. So I asked again, to be sure. No, not scheduled. 'Will cancer manifest itself while surpressed then?' I ask, 'should anything be lurking.' They nodded. Makes sense. Why would cancer obey rules, wildly as it grows. Still, maybe faster than they would expect? No reason for concern, they said. Of course unexpected things can't be predicted, like my cancer morphing into something less treatable, after being bombarded once with RAI. Possible. Can't say. Had bloodwork done to see if my Tg had lowered again after the test. Was interested to know. Results can't be found anywhere in the system. I must be mistaken. No blood sample was taken. Huh? Hey?! This Monday the supervisor comes in after talking to the assistant who saw me (10 minutes) and says, 'we're scheduling a thyrogen test for you in 6 months. Not now, there's a problem with thyrogen supply coming in from the US' ..... Huh? Can anyone follow? I can't. But I'm so baffled that I go home carrying the schedule of thyrogen shots in my bag. Today I phoned to go back in so as to unravel all inconsistencies they threw at me. If that's what it takes for me to get my barings, I'll do it. Hey?!

This image is done using a photo of the trees outside my hospital window when I was in there for my breast cancer surgery. The trees reminded me of a Greek Chorus in Greek tragedy, a homogenous, non-individualised group of performers, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action. They were there to offer a variety of background and summary information to help the audience follow the performance. In many of these plays, the chorus expressed to the audience what the main characters could not say, such as their hidden fears or secrets. The chorus often provided other characters with the insight they needed.

Monday, June 6, 2011

F**K THE BIG C! Fall! FL!

Free downloadable posters at riavandeneynde.com

Gallerist/Artist Jennifer Kosharek and I are organizing a group show F**K the big C! next September at Jennifer's gallery eve-N-odd with works by Betty Esperanza, Branka Djordjevic and myself. We're showing how cancer affects our individual art making practice while doing our small bit for raising cancer awareness.

Betty Esperanza, Branka Djordjevic and I will show works at the eve-N-odd Gallery, 645 Central Avenue #11, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA in September this year. We plan a long summer of promoting the show so as to make it count beyond a gallery exhibition, to get the message across that while we are changed by cancer and so is our individual art making practice; we emerge as stronger women and artists. All three we feel enriched by the experience and are decided to Live our Art Life to the fullest. That's how we're giving cancer the middle finger.

F**K THE BIG C! show runs through September, opens September 8 with live performances, Gallery Walk on September 10. Donations go to local cancer support projects. I will be showing pieces of my blog painting2cancers and have made signed prints available for pre-order here. For each sold piece, $40 will be donated to My Hope Chest, a Tampa based npo helping uninsured breast cancer survivors afford breast reconstruction surgery.


-My Hope Chest, presented by its founder Alisa Savoretti,
on abc action news-

Want to support us too ? Send a F**K THE BIG C! postcard to the gallery before September and we will put it up! Visitors can take a card home in exchange for a donation of their choice! (suggested $5 donation). Mail me a jpg of your card at fckthebigc(at)yahoo(dot)com and it will be documented on my blog Art on the Road and on fckthebigc.tumblr.com

F**K THE BIG C! is for all of us who went through it, for all of us who're going through it, for all of us who live with it, and for those among us who've passed away.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Impermanence

Self portrait, photo. It's 5 years now, post cancers. Changed.
(with this photo, I won the Photo Essay Competition by dearthyroid.org)


Change
(a poem by Kathleen Raine)

Change
Said the sun to the moon,
You cannot stay.

Change
Says the moon to the waters,
All is flowing.

Change
Says the fields to the grass,
Seed-time and harvest,
Chaff and grain.

You must change
Said the worm to the bud,
Though not to a rose,

Petals fade
That wings may rise
Borne on the wind.

You are changing
said death to the maiden, your wan face
To memory, to beauty.

Are you ready to change?
Says the thought to the heart, to let her pass
All your life long

For the unknown, the unborn
In the alchemy
Of the world's dream?

You will change,
says the stars to the sun,
Says the night to the stars.

Monday, May 9, 2011

La Muse*

-Modified image of Pablo Picasso's La Muse, 1935-

Been a while since I modified a painting a la Banksy ;) and I went for a Picasso this time. Ha! Not the obvious 'Les demoiselles d'Avignon,' but 'La Muse,' the muse. Significant title, after all, the body is most inspiring. I wonder what he'd have done with une amputée-model.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spectre

Photo, self portrait.

I look for me
a poem by Marjoleine de Vos


So if I am my body
not a princess in a tower, no butterfly
unfolding from its cocoon
biology my existence, blood
breath, bowel and lung and all those toes-
how is it then that I hardly know them
the half drowned liver, the industrious kidney
that I stay ignorant of the daily struggle
in heart and carotid, the effort in my skull
for me alone while I
remain inside blindfolded
deaf for synaptic labor and neuron power
talk of my soul and bang on doors
the body closed that claims my actions
attacks me flatters and seduces me, makes me shiver
and sing and that I am, so they say.

(translated by me from Dutch to English)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Inner Landscape #16-Depth

Digital print from a pastel on newspaper paper,
the original pastel has been destroyed, 12 by 17 inches.

The Shape of Death

What does love look like? We know
the shape of death. Death is a cloud
immense and awesome. At first a lid
is lifted from the eye of light:
there is a clap of sound, a white blossom

belches from the jaw of fright,
a pillared cloud churns from white to gray
like a monstrous brain that bursts and burns,
then turns sickly black, spilling away,
filling the whole sky with ashes of dread;

thickly it wraps, between the clean sea
and the moon, the earth's green head.
Trapped in its cocoon, its choking breath
we know the shape of death:
Death is a cloud.

What does love look like?
Is it a particle, a star -
invisible entirely, beyond the microscope and Palomar?
A dimension unimagined, past the length of hope?
Is it a climate far and fair that we shall never dare

discover? What is its color, and its alchemy?
Is it a jewel in the earth-can it be dug?
Or dredged from the sea? Can it be bought?
Can it be sown and harvested?
Is it a shy beast to be caught?

Death is a cloud,
immense, a clap of sound.
Love is little and not loud.
It nests within each cell, and it
cannot be split.

It is a ray, a seed, a note, a word,
a secret motion of our air and blood.
It is not alien, it is near-
our very skin-
a sheath to keep us pure of fear.



a poem by May Swenson

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Book of Torsos #5-Hesitation


-you're not changed by cancer, you emerge-
(a line I heard in 'Four Extraordinary Women.' )
Photo, post cancer torso.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Wings of A Dove

-cancer-
Acrylics and resin on a mono print, 4by6. Entry for A Book About Death, Life!
Entered in the permanent ABAD : Life archive as part of the Presbyterian College Art Collection, Clinton, South Carolina.

My heart is in anguish within me,
And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
And horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest."

from Psalm 55

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Inner Landscape #15-Insomnia

Oils on paper, 20 by 27 inches.

I have bouts of insomnia. I blame my meds. Being kept hyper to keep the thyroid cancer under control turns against me that way sometimes. Some nights I get up and look down the moon lit street. Some nights I lie awake and find how after my cancer treatments, my old frustrations and old desires that went lurking under the surface during treatments, come stare me in the face. I could get awfully bored before cancer, deadly bored I used to say. I still have that, this inner drive to do and feel alive. During the cancer treatments, I went into basic energy mode, I turned inwards and geared towards coping and survival. Now, it seems that inner drive to live fully got much stronger, with an added sense of urgency. Insomnia sharply confronts me with time. Lost time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Radical Acceptance-Clarity Haynes

Radical Acceptance, a show by Clarity Haynes (The Breast Portrait Project) opens tomorrow in Brooklyn. For those in the hood, I'll be there too, so to speak ;) I modeled for Clarity across the Ocean by email, sending photos of my (post-cancer) torso. Some mishap-photos I used for painting2cancers ... So, I'm proud to post about the show! Clarity says about the project:

I enjoy working with women with a wide range of body types and life experiences. Cancer survivors are just one of the groups who have found participating in the project to be a positive and emotionally healing experience. Over the past twelve years, more than 500 women have participated in the project. I’m grateful for all of the interactions I’ve had through this work -- I have learned from and been touched by the openness, courage and generosity of each model.


For more info on The Breast Portrait Project, visit:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Inner Landscape #14-The Path

digital print, study for a painting. Big, probably ;)

5 years ago today I had my left breast amputated. For some reason, this year more than the previous cancerversaries, I'm actively reminiscing the events leading up to the surgeries. The events that so radically changed my body and my life.

But look :) in the photo, where the tree branches are getting entangled and you can't see which is which anymore, where the darkness is most intense, that's where the brightest light is ....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Inner Landscape #13-Silence

Pastel on a newspaper page, 8 by 10 inches.
This is a photo of the piece, I destroyed the original page in a frenzy ;)

These days are enveloped by
Overwhelming Silence
of Unanswered Questions,
Inconsolable Sorrow
and Unfulfilled Dreams.
There only is
Raw Loneliness.
Inescapable,
Deafening
Here and Now.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Inner Landscape #12- Cancer Eye

Photo print, 8 by 10 inches.

When I was treated for my cancers, I sometimes flipped through med books in the library, staring at pictures of biopsy slides to see what the damn thing growing in me looked like. Oftentimes, I slammed the book shut, because I couldn't 'see' it, I didn't see how these color blots and lines were signs of malignant cancer. A part of me looked at them with an artistic eye? An eye for what life looks like, even if it is malignant. I thought, if you run that specimen slide through photoshop, that could make for some strong abstract. Beautiful even. I think it also works in another, twisted way. If you look around, with cancer in mind, you can see a cancer slide in almost anything. That eye can ruin your life just as much as the real stuff can. Equally harshly.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lovers in the Lilacs*

Modified (Banksied) 'Lovers in the Lilacs,' by Marc Chagall, 1930. Acrylics on a photo. By Banksied I'm referring to Banksy, a British street artist, who clandestinely hung up some modified paintings in museums. They hung there a couple of days before being spotted. What's not to like?

Chagall is one of my favorite painters. I love his colors and the way he lightheartedly portrays love. After I had my left amputation and later reconstruction, my husband and I had a ritual I inwardly called 'le boobie assessment' (pronounced with a French accent), in which my husband-before he went on a trip for work and when he came home-would check out the appearance and healing of my scars and my new breasts. After a while, when healing wasn't so drastically noticeable anymore, we stopped doing that. But to me, and probably my husband, it was important. For me, it was also lighthearted. Lovers, bodies and sex after (breast) cancer ... Quite a delicate topic. I heard my oncologist use the word sex in this context for the first time almost 5 years after my treatment in a talk he gave to us, breast cancer patients. I don't envy his position. How do you approach that fragile topic which undoubtedly has as many shapes and forms as there are patients? For me, lightheartedly works ...
I love how they are lying there between the lilacs, also my favorite spring perfume. So, let me post this piece as my holiday wishing card. There's a stack of snow lying outside, and hopefully, warmly covered underneath, a seed is getting ready for spring.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

La Mirada #17-Desolation

Print based on a pastel painting I made after my photo Medusa, 8 by 8 inches.

Over 99% of thyroid nodules are not cancer. Whew. Papillary tumors are the most common of all thyroid cancers (>70%). Cervical metastasis (spread to lymph nodes in the neck) are present in 50% of small tumors and in over 75% of the larger thyroid cancers. The numbers place me in a very very small statistical group. My tumor was 4,5 cm, I had 3 positive lymph nodes and had a 100 millicuries RAI, a standard dose. Standard RAI doses are effective for the majority of patients with thyroid cancer, who after being administered RAI get to have undetectable marker Tg. Guess what.

Within 9 months I had two cancers. Friends, and doctors, assured me, meaning well, that I would not have a second cancer in less than a year. Kind of isolating when you're worried. I tested negative for Cowden, a rare genetic syndrome combining thyroid and breast cancer, which would have put me at a higher risk for uterine cancer. What a relief.

In Belgium we have a high detection rate with mammogram screening. I wasn't even in the target age group. Mammograms can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. The key word is can. The imaging technique has its limitations. Sadly enough. Trouble started because I had felt a small hard lump in my left breast, size of a rice grain, exactly where one of my tumors was found .... The radiologist advised a biopsy, to be sure, after all, calcifications can be benign. Usually. I had three tumors in my breasts, different types left and right. What are those odds?

Doctors think statistically. Makes me think of the psychology diagnostics course I took. They teach you that if 75% of the population has brown eyes, you will be approached as having brown eyes. That's how it works. If you happen to have green eyes, tough. It's a problem, I think. It blinds doctors for the specific patient sitting in front of them, the woman whose breasts carry cancer ... It's tiring to be in a statistically small group as you are lumped into the norm that doesn't apply. Modern Experimental Science. Sad.

I'm thinking of all the women and men, whose cancer isn't detected early, who fall through the cancer cracks, through screening or otherwise. I could have been one of them. I guess I'm lucky. Sad.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Isolation Room


Digital print based on a photo of the isolation room I stayed in for 5 days for my RAI treatment. May 2005. The blue is a chair, covered in blue plastic, so as to prevent my body from leaving radioactive traces of sweat and so on it. I put it in front of the room door, which had a window in it so that visitors/nurses/doctors could talk to me via the intercom system.

I read a quote by Susan Sontag the other day on illness that describes well how, in hindsight, I sat in that room. It says:
"Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place."
After that stay I was put on levothyroxine, for the rest of my life. Since I heard I may not be rid of all cancer tissue, I think about that past cancer trajectory again ... I wrote another poem a while back, about what exactly those meds mean for me.


Death would come quietly
If I weren’t to take my meds.
Silently
Creeping
On my bed.
Vibrancy, death’s flip side:
Each day I take my pill,
Refusing to let go of Life!

Acrostic poetry DISCOVER on dearthyroid.org:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Acrostic Poem: ILLNESS

In the hospital, the day after my thyroidectomy. Photo. March 19th 2005.


Inhaling life,
Life without my thyroid,
Life with cancer…
Never the same again.
Exhaling, letting go.
Searching to embrace a new life
Simply breathing, here and now.


my poem on dearthyroid.org

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inner Landscape #11-The Chamber

collage and pastel on paper, digital print, 8 by 10 inches.

My thyroid tumor was 4.5cm-1.8inches. That's quite a butterfly. After they excised it, it went to the lab to check which bad guy it was. I don't know what happened with the remains. Do they keep them a while, indefinitely? Do they destroy them? In the oven? Where do the ashes go then? ... For my breast tumors I had to sign authorizations so they could use the remains and some blood samples for research. Not for my thyroid. I imagine my breast tumors to be in some sterile environment, sliced and diced into specimen slides, then kept in lab drawers. For my thyroid, the image is much more obscure. I imagine it went in the oven, in a cold and desolate chamber. Dreamlike. Surreal.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Femininity #2-Silver

Oils on paper, 20 by 27 inches. An art class exercise.

I'd like to think that
I've suffered the changes
of mountain and sea,
wind and cloud.
And yet be still young,
exuberant,
unbending.

~Soyo Taeneung (1562-1649)

I'm turning gray. I didn't see it coming. They say stress and meds can make that happen. There are sturdy threads of gray-ish white showing between my brown long hair and I have two gray tresses at either side of my head that some days make me think of Frankenstein's bride's hairdo. When the light hits them, they reflect it. So, they're not gray. They're silver. I used to color my hair, to hide first gray till some months ago. I'm more into natural since my cancers ... I'd like to have a full head of completely gray long wavy hair later ... later ;) I'll be a crone.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Book of Torsos #4-The Body-Nothing Else

Print, based on a blue pastel I made for seeking kali, 8 by 10 inches.
You can see that pastel in the seeking kali video in my side bar, it's the first image on there.


Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.
~T.S.Eliot, from 'Dry Salvages.'

Antonio Damasio uses this quote in his book "The Feeling of What Happens," in which he describes consciousness and in particular its biological underpinnings. I love his books. Reading them leaves me in awe for what we (merely) are, and inspires respect for our fragility. Like I wrote before: 'The body is finite and limited. Life is fragile and precious.' No need to elaborate on why this feels important to me against the background of 2 cancers I guess. It's Damasio's books and my Buddhist background that inspired the title of my blog the body-nothing else.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

two cancers gave me-

I've come to think again about what these cancer trajectories have given me in terms of vitality... Quite a lot. I want the pieces of my (he)art to travel, all over the globe to lead a life of their own amongst friends and people I feel connected to-and I've been given lots of those too.

Well ... it's all happening!
One of the pieces I submitted to an art call by Mobius.Inc in Boston, MA, The Prostitution of Art, made me feel all of that amplified. Funny how that happened. I've participated in many a call so far and many a piece of mine traveled. You can check my log Art on the Road ;) My friend Bill Evertson went to the opening and shared a video about the exhibit, co-curated by another friend of mine Jane Hsiaoching Wang and watching it, I just felt a part of the whole thing ...

Here's my piece, I used a drawing I made when I was in my teens, measuring with Da Vinci ;) I shot it on our ironing board, which to me funnily fits with the theme of the show and then photo-shopped over it.

And here's Bill's video, my piece is at 1.28 in the video, in the magazine Mobius prints for the show :)



You know what? I'm damn proud! & Happy! & Grateful!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Art Cure


The Art Cure is a breast cancer awareness art project conceived by international artist and photographer, Tatiana von Tauber-whom I also would like to submit to my other blog the body-nothing else myself ;)

The Art Cure's focus is to introduce the power of art in healing and coping with the dark sides of life while raising funds for charity. Breast cancer victims and survivors are invited to paint a canvas for a silent auction with proceeds benefiting breast cancer awareness and research.

Friday, October 1, 2010 is The Art Cure’s projected opening at Horizon Gallery in downtown Savannah, GA for invited guests and press. Sunday, October 3, 2010 is planned for a public reception. For more information visit the official blog:


I decided to donate Elysium:

You can click the image to see the post & opening bid for the silent auction on The Art Cure's blog.

The deadline for sending works is September 26th. Info here. Still time!

In the meanwhile two of my friends, Kathleen McHugh and LuAnn Palazzo generously donated a piece to be auctioned off-clicking their names will take you to their pieces on The Art Cure's blog. But also: they both dedicated their work to me ... and I was moved to tears. Love you both! XXX

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

why do I do what I do?


wdydwyd? is a worldwide community-art project to answer the question: "Why do you do what you do?" by combining an image and text in a creative way.

I don't remember now how I found out about them, but I do remember I knew immediately what to answer ;) You can click my image to go to their site and read what I wrote to go with it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Femininity #1-The Blue Shoes

Acrylics and pastel on fiber board
-Never again! The fiber board that is, acrylics and pastel: wow!-
15 by 17 inches.


After my reconstruction I wanted to do womanly things ... Don't ask me why. Some (female) friends asked if I felt less of a woman after my left breast amputation. I never knew what to answer. I still don't. Between the two amputations, I went into shops to try on clothes to see how the asymmetry felt to me and to see if and how people reacted. I remember that I got to feel I wanted to have a reconstruction done in the long run. A couple of months later my right breast was amputated and both were reconstructed. Since all of that ... I just notice that I look for nice shoes, fitted clothes and that my hair gained importance. I don't analyze the stuff. Womanhood redefined? Womanhood rediscovered? Womanhood appreciated? ... I just enjoy going along with it.

ps: It's painting2cancers' birthday this month. 2 candles on its cake :) Already.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bringing Sexy Out of the Thyloset


This post is part of the Dear Thyroid Blog Tour, i.e. during the month of September, Dear Thyroid is going on a blog tour to promote awareness for thyroid cancer. 'For this blog tour, we’ll be asking bloggers to write a post on their own blog that addresses some questions provided by Dear Thyroid regarding thyroid cancer and thyroid cancer awareness. On the day we are scheduled to make a “stop” at your blog, Dear Thyroid will post a brief description of your blog along with a link from our website to yours.'


So, here’s the Q&A ;)

-What kind of thyroid cancer were you diagnosed with? How many years have you been a survivor?

In March 2005 I had a thyroidectomy, followed by RAI end of May for papillary thyroid cancer, 4,5 cm left lobe and spread to some 3 or 4 glands. I just found out that the Thyrogen test I took in August, shows there's residue tissue ...

-September is thyroid cancer awareness month. What does that mean to you? Why do you think awareness is important? How do you spread awareness?

This September, thyroid cancer awareness month, I want to take a moment here, on my blog, to remember. Remember what getting cancer---my 1st, 9 months later, I was dxd with breast cancer---meant to me. What it meant for my body, my relationship, my surroundings. My physical and emotional status, so to speak. But also, I post on this blog as my very small way to spread awareness. Thyroid cancer is rare, not many people know of it and often it just falls between the folds of the other cancers that get more talked about. I think that also has implications on early detection. I’d say, ‘peeps, feel your necks!’

-Many thyroid cancer patients have been told, “If you have to get cancer, thyroid cancer is the one to get.” What do you think of that statement? When you’re told this, how do you respond?

As a thyroid cancer patient/survivor, you’re often told ‘it’s the one to get.’ “Frankly, I’d rather not ‘get’ any, you?” is my default answer. I put that statement down to ignorance from an attempt to be comforting, easier to deal with for those who say it? And ignorance. Out of ignorance, hurtful things are said … The treatment trajectory and prognosis vary according to the type cancer you have, it’s not as straightforward as it seems-thinking that it is, is a cold approach which feeds the myth-after all, bodies differ…-that’s the warm approach.

-Dear Thyroid is constantly working to dispel the myth that thyroid cancer is the good cancer or the easy cancer. What other myth would you like to dispel regarding thyroid cancer?

There’s another cancer myth about it that roams, you can live your life the same way without your thyroid ... After a thyroidectomy, you’re thyroid IS a pill basically. You take a pill daily, for the rest of your life. Hopefully, you’ll be able to manage the hyper-level they put you on as a way to control the cancer that may lure in residue cells. Hopefully you don’t suffer too much from side effects. Hopefully you get on the right dosage easily enough. Hopefully they managed to spare nerves (vocal chords and shoulder) that are in the neighborhood while taking the thyroid out, hopefully they managed to spare most of the 4 parathyroid glands in the process, otherwise leaving you to also take calcium supplements for the rest of your life. Hopefully, hopefully ….

-What one thing would you tell the world about thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer sucks! It’s out there! Check your necks!

-What advice would you give to a newly diagnosed thyroid cancer patient?

A lot of information addressing treatments, follow-up, strategies, I looked up for myself on the web, in books, in support groups and by asking questions to my docs and fellow patients. I’m a person who wants to know. It gives me (the illusion of) some control maybe, it gives me peace of mind, reasonable stress levels, certainly. Nothing is more nerve-racking to me than not knowing what’s going on in terms of treatment.


Note to this post:

Very early on, for this blog I made “Moth,” to recall my thyroid cancer. It’s one of my most gripping and one of my best pieces, I think. I never really got to post a text with that painting. Too poignant. But this blog-tour post? Suits just fine! Thank you “Dear Thyroid.”


Moth, March 2005
acrylics on canvas
Dear Thyroid is a thyroid support community and literary brand. Our goal is to connect patients with each other, to create awareness for thyroid diseases and cancers, and to give all thyroid patients a voice. We come together as a united front to invoke change on behalf of thyroid patients worldwide. Thyroid patients are invited to submit letters to their thyroids, thyroid rants and raves, and other literary creations. Help us to create awareness for thyroid diseases and cancers by wearing your disease on your sleeve and by requesting one of our free awareness bands. Visit DearThyroid.org to learn more!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

La Mirada #16-Wraith

-self portrait, photo-

Bad news: My Thyrogen test shows that my thyroid cancer marker went up-they say I'm in the group of people for whom 1 radioactive iodine treatment after thyroidectomy does not get all the bad guys. Still, since my ultrasound was clear and my marker-values stay okay while suppressed, they will wait&see what happens ... So, I'm in the 'wait&see' mode from now on. There's something there, my blood says so, though we can't locate it (yet?) ...

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. I'm painfully aware again myself. But I also know it's important to spread the word. Next week, I'm doing a special post for the Dear Thyroid Blog Tour joining in to raise awareness. Dear Thyroid is a thyroid literary support site. It's written by thyroid patients, for thyroid patients. They invite patients with all kinds of thyroid ailments to write a letter to their thyroid as a way of healing and coping and releasing fear and irritation and other upsetting emotions.

Last night while I lay awake, I felt one bubbling up:


Dear Thyroid,


I was very sorry to hear yesterday that we did not completely eradicate you by excising you and bombarding you with radioactive iodine of 100mCurie.
As a young girl, I admired Mme Curie a lot, so I imagined she'd be a great ally while we were trying to nuke you out of my system. On the other hand and in some distorted way, it all makes sense. You're a part of me. You're feisty.
Still, I wouldn't get too confident if I were you.
Don't even think for one second that you got it made -wherever you are.

I'm way bigger than you.
And I'm a hell of a lot feistier!

Regards,
Ria

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Break!

Next month I'll take a break from painting2cancers.
I'll be back tho, with a new series femininity, that's in the making :)
In the meanwhile, thank you all so much for visiting and leaving your comments and feedback.
They're very supportive and I love reading them!
See ya!

La Mirada #15-Questions

self portrait, photo.

Next month I'll be taking another Thyrogen Test to measure my (thyroid) cancer marker. I had two of those before-one smack between two breast cancer surgeries, ugh. The marker went from 2,5 to 1,5. It should be unmeasurable, that is, under 1. The second time, they said I had nothing to worry about though, as the marker had gone down. If there had been cancer residue left, it would have gone up. Makes sense. So I was quite surprised that they'd want to repeat it now, after 5 years ... Normally-but what's that?-they don't, unless there are problems. There aren't any, except the damn thing was 1,5 and not 1 or under. As the doctor said the words "we suggest to repeat the Thyrogen test," I felt the wave rising ...
It tells me that I (still?) can't really 'control' my emotions in that moment, when docs go there, even if I've had the experience of two cancers. I'm guessing that, if they'd say, it's back or you have a third cancer, the wave would rise and I'd be overwhelmed again, though I'm certainly stronger in coping with treatment strategies, acceptance, the not knowing that accompanies the cancer, any cancer. That moment, in which they go there, the wave rises and I('ll) have no defense.