Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cancer and Creativity

Normally, I follow a possibly abnormal self-imposed rule to make my posts EITHER about creative pursuits OR about cancer, and that WAS my intent. I’ve been FIRED UP creatively lately, though I’ve not had enough to time to indulge. I did however manage to finish a couple of projects last month, and it was my intent to share those projects, but dang it, I had a PET scan in the middle of trying to complete my blog. I know my friends will lovingly hound me if I don’t give a report…so here goes:

After 3 months of treatment (described in my January 14 post), I had my first PET scan, after which, I received good news! There was decreased size and activity in the cancerous nodules, as well as in nodules which had appeared in my left lung (a new site, as prior activity had been on the right.) The new nodules in my left lung (over 20, at last count) had previously been considered non-cancerous, but the fact that they responded to the chemo indicates they were either cancerous or pre-cancerous. The report also indicates that there is improvement in of the hydropneumothorax…which is a mixture of fluid and air in the pleura (the lining around my right lung.) I still have the chest catheter in place, but am crossing my fingers that continued improvement will mean that this can be yanked out one day soon!

Unfortunately, I am in a new battle…with my insurance company. The 3-fold chemo treatment is non-standard. One of the meds alone is standard, but combining the daily chemo pill I take with the other 2 chemos I get weekly is non-standard…not FDA approved. Well, the FDA approved treatment did NOT work for me, and this IS working. So, although coverage for this treatment has been denied twice, the last denial having been deemed “final”, the new development of measurable improvement means we can re-appeal. Send out those good vibes and prayers and hope that we prevail!

OK…on to the FUN stuff!

Seems my life is proving my theory that time is like a woman’s purse…the more time (or the bigger the purse), the more we’ll find to fill it up. It certainly seems like it should be an easy enough thing to do to find/make time to blog, but it seldom seems to work out that way.

There’s got to be a way to make the time…

My most recent solution found me trapped in a chair for 7 & ½ hours at Scripps Hospital, Encinitas, where I received a transfusion. The other option for that day was to drive up to Julian to stay with close friends, in hopes of getting snowed in. Although one might think we’d opt for that, I couldn’t quite convince my husband that reclining in the snow on the side of the road with his arms entangled in snow chains was the best way to spend a Saturday…so we opted for the transfusion. It gave my hemoglobin a boost AND gave me a chance to get most of my blog written up.

As I mentioned, I was able to finally complete a couple of art projects early last month.

“It All Comes from Within” started with a background in my favorite color of yellow, to which I added text from my collection of words and phrases, and a bit of black acrylic paint. The resulting image seemed disjointed, until I layered blue, green and yellow tissue paper swirls to create depth and movement. This is one of my husband’s favorite pieces of mine, so far. I really like working with tissue paper, and am starting to collect probably WAY more than I need.

Sometimes I’ll work, re-work and overwork a piece to get it to where it feels done (or I’m ready to give it up), which was NOT the case with “Fractured Forrest, Winter.”

It was probably one of the simplest pieces I’ve created. You know how hard it is to throw out those pretty images from calendars? That’s what started this page, as I cut into strips a serene winter scene. I laid on a little paint, winter-based text, bird image from a discarded book, and the yellow tissue moons, and called it “done.”

In the meantime, I’ve finally put my new sewing machine to good use. Until last summer, I used a Signature sewing machine, one given to me back in ’73. My little office/creative space doesn’t really have sufficient room to keep my sewing machine set up, and I swear that old machine gained weight with the passing years…it would have been easier to pick up my car, and I’d generally have to ask for help to get it (the sewing machine, not the car) out of the closet. Last summer, I saw a Brother sewing machine at Costco for $100. Light as a flea, lots of stitches I’ll never use, and a few cool features that please me. Time, and a little learning curve kept me from letting it earn its keep, but the fabric stash from my good ‘ole quilting days beckoned, and provided some inspiration to replace the pillows on our bed.

Those who quilt will understand that, in spite of a closet-full of fabrics, I found I didn’t have the right color for the background of the pillow. This sent me marching into the local quilt store (SERIOUSLY) chanting to myself “I’m only buying 1 thing, I’m only buying 1 thing.” A sales clerk with an obvious artistic eye (who started out in mixed media, including metal, before moving into textiles) turned me on to a technique I’d never seen before, called “chenilling.” It basically involves layering 4—8 layers of fabrics, stitching grids on a ½” bias, and then cutting through all but the bottom layer, before washing and drying the piece a couple of times to cause all the cut edges to fray and open...creating a piece with lots of visual movement.

I got started on that piece, but had to set it aside to start up sewing a dress for my nearly 5-year old granddaughter. (I used to sew clothing for my daughters, as well as myself, but haven’t made clothing in YEARS.) Both projects are as yet, “to be continued.”

Looking for a little creative kick? A friend turned me on to a site recently, called StumbleUpon. I set up my profile to tag various interests…they cover a WIDE range from Philosophy, Geneology, Humor, Health, Fashion, Mythology…YOU name it! Every time I go to the page, it makes recommendations about other websites I might be interested in, and I give the recommendation a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down.”

So, (since I’m not already suffering from enough “informational overload”) I set up my profile to (OF COURSE) include “Art.” Based on this, StumbleUpon made a recommendation for ColourLovers.com. Those who love color will find PLENTY to distract them from things they REALLY should be doing, like paying bills or cleaning the toilet. You’ll not only find lovely palettes AND patterns, but you can copy these patterns for use in your art projects. AND, you can design your own palettes and patterns.

I haven’t experimented with designing patterns, but have used several patterns to create greeting cards. I’ve also created a couple of palettes, and was pleased today to find that someone had created a sweet plaid pattern, which they named “Sherbert Plaid” from my palette, named “Rosy Sherbert.” And, ever-learning creature that I am, I now have discovered that the correct way to spell “sherbert” is “sherbet,” at least according to good ‘ole Spell-Check! (Dictionary.com DOES show it both ways!)

As luck would have it, I DO have time today to get out the paints, papers, colored pencils and other items from my creative stash…so I’ll give you’all a break for now. Go out…and create!

"I found that I could say things with color that I couldn't say in any other way-things that I had no words for." Georgia O'Keefe


  1. Hi Linda,
    Wow! I love the winter calendar picture w/the bird. Simply amazing! I am glad your treatment is working and I pray this treatment will be covered by your insurance. Love ya, Dusty

  2. You are so incredibly radical Linda =)

  3. Woo, good news about your health! Yippee! and keep fighting with the insurance goofs. Don't give up. You are so creative, both of these pieces are wonderful, the second is my fav.It's lovely to see you post!

  4. What a woman!!!!!Incredible! Prayers and laughter I am sending your way!!! Love, Sana

  5. what a great use of your time! much more worthwhile than toilets!! great art, linda!! valerie

  6. Please don't feel you must respond, I just stopped in to send some love your way. Big hug to you!

  7. I am praying for you and I love the winter Calender its so creative love you Linda and keep up your spirit xoxo and Hugs Patty

  8. Your artwork is beautiful. Where can I buy it? :) Thinking of you always. ~ Gina


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