Tuesdays at the Chemo Unit, Feb 26 and Mar 5, 2013

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I took this photo on the way to the hospital today. It seems to me this is a sign we should all be shown at birth.

Or it could say “Warning: Life is deep and messy and sometimes you can’t see the light.”

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Last week I had my monthly appointment with my doctor. Because I’m reliably stable, I was given to the young and personable Resident to see. It was our first time meeting and he was very restrained as he reviewed the usual questions.

Then came the  moment when he asked me, “Can I examine you now?”

His eagerness made me laugh and I replied, “I know, you’re just dying to feel this liver, aren’t you?”

He laughed casually as I climbed up on the table. Then he started to actually examine the breadth of my liver and I saw a growing gleam in his eye.

“Oh, this really is exciting! I’ve never seen a liver like this before”

So maybe I shouldn’t feel satisfaction in having such a uniquely big liver, but I did feel a sense of accomplishment. If I’m to have a big liver, I want it to be the biggest. We might as well have some ambition in this life.

Sam

My apologies to you all and to Kate. None of her cartoons showed up in yesterday’s posting. Let’s see if it works today.

Enjoy!

Sam

 

Cartoonists hold a special place in my heart. Aside from my love of them leftover from childhood, there is something about the whimsy of cartoons that allows the dark side of a situation to be exposed to the light. I recently, happily stumbled upon a new cancer cartoonist and her humour is spot on to describe the life of a cancer patient (or any seriously ill patient for that matter).

This wonderful cartoonist is Kate Matthews and you can find her in all of these different ways:

cartoonsbykate@gmail.com

twitter: @cartoonsbykate

Her story is woven in through her cartoons. Enjoy.

 

Sam

 

One day, close to the end of his life, my daughter offered my Father-in-law a handful of Red Hots (bright-red, heart-shaped cinnamon-flavored candies).  He gestured with his hand and said, “ No thanks, I’m off the Lysinopril” (these were his bright-red, kind of heart-shaped, blood pressure control pills).  We all burst out laughing and for a while, his pain and our sorrow were lifted away.  Eventually my memory of that moment morphed into a cartoon:

 

Shortly after my Father-in-law died, I too was diagnosed with cancer.  At first, I fell into that deep dark hole of despair that seems so dreadfully inescapable.  But then I remembered how we had laughed and how much it had helped.  I began to construct a ladder of laughter to help me get out of my hole:

 

 

Cartooning saved my sanity. I was seeking that bright quick moment of mental relief, the laugh that pushes the fear and the pain away. Anytime I found it, I drew it.  I drew in the doctor’s waiting rooms and in the chemo chair, in my living room and in the hospital.    When my treatment was finished, I collected the cartoons in a book in hopes of sharing a few bright moments with others.  We all know that there’s not one damn thing that’s funny about cancer, but no one needs a good laugh more than we folks who are fighting it.  That’s why I’m still cartooning, why I try to post a new cartoon everyday.  When we laugh, we feel good and when we feel good, we get stronger.  Let’s hear it for laughter!

 

Cartoonists hold a special place in my heart. Aside from my love of them leftover from childhood, there is something about the whimsy of cartoons that allows the dark side of a situation to be exposed to the light. I recently, happily stumbled upon a new cancer cartoonist and I  her humour is spot on to describe the life of a cancer patient (or any seriously ill patient for that matter).

This wonderful cartoonist is Kate Matthews and you can find her in all of these different ways:

cartoonsbykate@gmail.com

twitter: @cartoonsbykate

 

Her story is woven in through her cartoons. Enjoy.

 

Sam

 

Cartooning Against Cancer by Kate Matthews

 

One day, close to the end of his life, my daughter offered my Father-in-law a handful of Red Hots (bright-red, heart-shaped cinnamon-flavored candies).  He gestured with his hand and said, “ No thanks, I’m off the Lysinopril” (these were his bright-red, kind of heart-shaped, blood pressure control pills).  We all burst out laughing and for a while, his pain and our sorrow were lifted away.  Eventually my memory of that moment morphed into a cartoon:

Inline image 2

Shortly after my Father-in-law died, I too was diagnosed with cancer.  At first, I fell into that deep dark hole of despair that seems so dreadfully inescapable.  But then I remembered how we had laughed and how much it had helped.  I began to construct a ladder of laughter to help me get out of my hole:

Inline image 3

Cartooning saved my sanity. I was seeking that bright quick moment of mental relief, the laugh that pushes the fear and the pain away. Anytime I found it, I drew it.  I drew in the doctor’s waiting rooms and in the chemo chair, in my living room and in the hospital.    When my treatment was finished, I collected the cartoons in a book in hopes of sharing a few bright moments with others.  We all know that there’s not one damn thing that’s funny about cancer, but no one needs a good laugh more than we folks who are fighting it.  That’s why I’m still cartooning, why I try to post a new cartoon everyday.  When we laugh, we feel good and when we feel good, we get stronger.  Let’s hear it for laughter!

Inline image 5

 

Happy Monday all,

This week I am happy to present another painting by Gina Duque. I hope you all went to take a look at her after the last submission. If not, please do take a look at the many wonderful ways in which she sees the world.

Enjoy!

Sam

 

 

In her own words:

About the Artist

Whether it’s through prints like ‘Calypso’ or paintings like ‘Eukarya’, the essence of my work stems from creating mystical images inspired by cellular biology, the concept of healing and my interest in exploring the spiritual connection between the body and mind. I am currently using images derived from medical imaging technology to portray cells, tissues and systems of the human body.

During the last two and a half years of my cancer treatment, creating artworks has become a therapeutic and fulfilling process, eventually evolving into a spiritual and mindful practice.

Gina Duque is an emerging artist currently attending the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario for her Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours Degree. Originally from Cali, Colombia, she immigrated to Canada with her mother at the age of eleven to Walkerton, Ontario.

 

About ‘Rebirth ‘

‘Rebirth’ is an abstract painting inspired by the Phoenix, a mythical creature that ignites on fire at the end of its life cycle and arises from its ashes to be reborn again. This is a powerful piece that for me signifies closing a painful, yet wisdom filled period in my life where I’ve gained so many life lessons not only from this experience but also from the many courageous, inspiring cancer patients I have met along the way. Now taking the ashes of my last chapter to construct another, I begin anew feeling stronger than ever with a renewed perspective on life that has truly enabled me to live life to its fullest.

 

Happy Monday to all. Today I am pleased to share with you the work of an artist I recently met online. I saw Gina Duque’s art on the cover of the journal  and was blown away. (Every month this journal features a different artist – be sure to check out their archives. )

I’m going to tempt you with one painting today and you can look forward to others at a later date.  To read more about Gina and see more of her work you can click .  Her works are for sale as well. Enjoy!

Sam

In her own words:

About the Artist

 

Whether it’s through prints like ‘Calypso’ or paintings like ‘Eukarya’, the essence of my work stems from creating mystical images inspired by cellular biology, the concept of healing and my interest in exploring the spiritual connection between the body and mind. I am currently using images derived from medical imaging technology to portray cells, tissues and systems of the human body.

During the last two and a half years of my cancer treatment, creating artworks has become a therapeutic and fulfilling process, eventually evolving into a spiritual and mindful practice.

Gina Duque is an emerging artist currently attending the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario for her Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours Degree. Originally from Cali, Colombia, she immigrated to Canada with her mother at the age of eleven to Walkerton, Ontario.

About ‘Eukarya’

“Eukarya,” is a mixed media painting that explores the concept of the body as the ultimate self-regenerating system through the power of visualization and the mind -body connection. Fantastical in nature, “Eukarya” is a symbol for vibrant, radiant health that arises from the harmonious balance between the mind, body and soul. 

Eukarya

by Gina Duque

Ultra Sounds Monday, July 9, 2012

Hello everyone,

My apologies for the quietness of the blog these days. It’s these sluggish summer days. You could peel me off the couch when it’s as hot as it has been lately in Southern Ontario. Once the cooler weather arrives, I will be back in full swing.

Today’s submission comes from Kelly Thorarinson,a lovely woman I met at an Art for Cancer Workshop. I love the colours and texture of this painting as well as the title and what it represents. Do check out Kelly’s other work and her blog.

In her own words:

Re: Resolving the Screening dilemma

I worked on this piece through Art for Cancer Foundation’s 5 week workshop.  I call it resolving the screening dilemma as that is actually part of a typewritten piece that is visible under all the colour and texture…. a newspaper clipping. That is how I first decided to name this piece, but really there is so much more.  Those words resonate with me because there is complexity to cancer treatment.  Even as a stage 1 breast cancer patient where treatment is fairly straightforward, there are still many questions.  One, of which, is about screening as the very screening methods and treatment for breast cancer can also cause cancer.  Sure is a dilemma.  The other aspect of the title is that in doing art I was able to solve the dilemmas of cancer by giving them a voice and hours of escape through art. More of my art can be found at and I write a blog at

 

 

The Screening Dilemma

by Kelly Thorarinson

Ultra Sounds Monday, April 9, 2012

Today’s submission is a poem by Julie Maloney from her wonderful chapbook, Private Landscape (if you live in Toronto, she donated a copy to the Princess Margaret Hospital Library). The chapbook centers around her journey through breast cancer. She is well now after traveling through cancer twice – once in 2000 and again in 2003.

Julie is the founder/director of an organization dedicated to supporting women writers called WOMEN READING ALOUD. Please visit:  for more information. She also leads writing workshops for cancer patients and their caregivers at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center in NJ.

This is an amazing love poem that resonated deeply with me. I would encourage you to seek out Julie’s chapbook.

 

HE LOVES ME THE WAY HE KNOWS BEST 

 

 

He scoops me up off the toilet bowl

    and carries me back to bed

I have fallen asleep again, not deeply,

    but my eyelids are closed

And I cannot move one inch

    from the tissue paper roll

 

I recognize his hands under my thighs

They are strong and clean

For cutting vegetables in the kitchen

Chopping away the brown spots into the sink

 

He brings me oatmeal and tea and toast

     with jam

Grills cheese and tomato sandwiches

    and plates them with a pickle

Buys bruschetta and Italian bread to sop up

     the red juice

Never mentions my bald head and round belly

 

At night he tucks the sheets under my chin

Places the prayer beads in my hands

Climbs next to me in bed

Near the hole in my chest  

I read an interesting article in the Globe and Mail a couple of weeks ago: 

This entry to the Facts and Arguments section was submitted by a woman who struggled with lupus disease for 25 years before being essentially cured by an experimental treatment. While she was thrilled, there was an adaptation that was necessary to adjust to this new normal of health.

When I was diagnosed 12 years ago with my illness, we were ploughing along on a trajectory of kids, jobs, and new home. We had our life mapped out pretty well when we were suddenly forced to take this unexpected detour created by my diagnosis. We have spent years adjusting. I have had to adjust to a different level of health and a changing body.  We have had to adjust to regular medical appointment and changing expectations of how I could contribute to the household. We have had to adjust to changed expectations of how our life would unfold. I have had to split my attention not only between family, home and work, but I have also needed to stay focused on struggling for good health. So much of my daily experience, including how people interact with me, is shaped by my illness. As much as I protest that I am not my illness, it has a profound influence over my life and my identity. Hey, I wouldn’t be blogging if it were not for my illness.

What if tomorrow, I was told that a full cure has been found and that I could go on to lead a “normal” life? After the champagne celebration, I would likely have a crisis of identity. It would probably be terrifying. What would be my next steps? I couldn’t go back and just pick up where I left off. I would have to reconstruct myself again with another new normal; a post-illness normal. There would be a big void in my life. A welcome one, but a big one nonetheless. I could see it feeling like stepping out into an abyss.    So many possibilities, yet I would have to get used to trusting my health on a daily basis.  I would have to shoulder more of the burden of work.

It is interesting how the idea of being well again holds a mixture of excitement and fear. I hadn’t thought about my own feelings until reading this article and my reaction surprised me.  Perhaps one day a cure will be a reality that I will have to be brave enough to face. I can only hope.

Sam

 

I just discovered a beautiful organization called

I will let them speak for themselves:

PhotoSensitive was founded in 1990 as a non-profit collective of photographers determined to explore how photography can contribute to social justice. Their idea was to bring together the photographic talents of a number of Toronto-based professional photographers, to harness the power of the camera to achieve social goals. Each photographer would bring his or her own vision to the subject; the sum of these visions would provide a compelling social comment.

The subject matter of their projects ranges from homelessness to child poverty. From HIV/Aids to Rwanda. They have two cancer-related projects: Cancer Connections and TIEd together (prostate cancer project). Their talented photographers build stories with their pictures, use their pictures to comment on issues and also to encourage the viewers to take action.

Their gallery contains an incredible collection of photographs which I encourage you to .

Sam