Having cancer can be a physically and emotionally overwhelming experience. Engaging the creative process provided me with the inspiration to face the uncertainties, stress and pain of my treatment with commitment, creativity and courage.
Abstract photographs from my series Seeking the Light, especially the image to the left, served as visual meditations helping me cope with the anxiety and pain associated with treatment. I discovered I could use them in this way while searching for relief after suffering a panic attack during the CT scan simulation prior to my first treatment. Visualizing the images in my mind’s eye helped me relax and prepared me for 6 weeks of radiation to my tongue and neck while bolted to the table under the mask. Through these images I was able to turn a terrifying treatment into a relaxing meditation.
I used this technique throughout my treatments. As the pain got more intense the meditations provided me with an even deeper oasis of peace. Even though the sharp pain from my mouth sores brought tears to my eyes and the swelling and irritation in my throat prevented me from eating solid food I had the profound understanding that with each treatment I was a step towards healing my cancer. My body was weakened by the treatments yet I was feeling an energizing swell of inner strength.
It’s unlikely I could have skipped the prescribed anti-anxiety medications, feeding tube or heavy painkillers without the resources I found within myself through these images. I strongly believe that creativity played a vital role in my ability to not only survive but to thrive though treatment. In addition, my post-treatment work is some of the strongest I’ve every created!