Ten years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I spent most of 2007 in treatment of one kind or another; and I spent it crying and broken apart. I spent years trying to understand my experience, to explain it to my friends. And in the end, words were just not adequate.
Cancer is complicated. What it did to me, my identity and my life is complicated. I had lots of choices to make (surgery, chemotherapy, hormone treatment, hysterectomy) and yet none of my options were great. All of my options had major downsides to them. It sucked, but that’s cancer for you.
In 2002 I discovered SoulCollage®. The process has served me well over the years, allowing me to explore my world through imagery. SoulCollage® is what opened me up to mixed media art, a current passion of mine. I had done some SoulCollage® after breast cancer treatment, but it was in 2012 that I decided to create cards about my breast cancer journey.
Here is my Breast Cancer SoulCollage® deck. It does for me what words cannot…it expresses how I felt about my experience. It’s not linear, and it’s not complete, and that’s okay.
I am One who’s world has been torn apart. I am One who is in shock.
I am One who has been carried away against my will.
I am One who walks this path alone. I am scared.
I am One who has stepped into a world of hospitals, doctors and pills. Lots of pills. I feel like I aged 20 years in just 6 months.
I am One who is carved up. Body parts lost, scarred.
I am One who is stalked by Death. I feel the threat of violence and death all around me.
I am One who fights for my life.
I am One who lost my female identity along with my body parts. Who am I without my breasts? Without my uterus and ovaries?
I am One who feels like I am part of a bigger picture. I have found community with other breast cancer survivors. Pink Phoenix teammates are my sisters.
I am One who fights for my sisters in battle.
It’s been 10 years since my diagnosis, and I am still living with the consequences of breast cancer. There are more SoulCollage® cards to be made on this subject. I realize that I need to make cards expressing my gratitude for all of the love and support I have received over the years. I have also lost too many friends to cancer, and that grief is deep. Just last year my youngest daughter found a lump in her breast (it was benign) and that reopened my fear for my daughters’ health. Unfortunately cancer is a “gift” that just keeps on giving!
Thank the heavens for SoulCollage®!