Journal Entry: May 16, 2021
Mounted radiation mask, acrylic and ink on wood
Back in December 2020 I was approached by the Cancer Support Community AZ about an exhibit they were wanting to display at the Arts HQ Gallery. It was an exciting concept where artists were given radiation masks of cancer patients and commissioned to create works of art based on the patient’s story. As the Gallery Director, naturally I said yes. I could not pass this kind of opportunity, to bring more awareness to and engagement with the cancer community, all through the framework of art.
At the time of our initial planning, my father and sister both were suffering through cancer diagnosis and treatments. In January my father lost this battle and passed away at age 79. At this same time my sister, age 50, her condition worsened. An aggressive form of throat cancer quickly began taking more and more of her body.
I visited my sister in April. With her voice gone, her breathing and eating, all now performed with some sort of assistance, I quickly noticed that her struggle with this disease was the frustration and the emotional taxation it inflicted her identity and her very soul. All I could do was love on her by being present.
One afternoon as we were watching TV, I noticed she had a radiation mask in the corner of her room. I knew that she went through treatment but I didn't realize that she had kept her mask, the very same type of mask that would be used in the exhibit. I explained to her about the Darkness To Light exhibit and asked if I could work on a piece for her and feature it in this exhibit. She kindly agreed, leaving me with the words, “It reminds me of what I’ve been through.” I came back with her radiation mask, determined to capture her story as it plays out today, as she continues her battle.
This piece, titled “Pushing Through,” is a reflection of what I have seen in my sister as she battles cancer today. Like a beautiful lotus climbing, reaching, making its way through mucky waters, she pushes through. Through sadness, disappointment, isolation, pain, frustration, and innumerable unknowns, she pushes through. Holding herself up, trying to keep herself together through the whole process. She has always been strong, secure, a fighter, not willing to stand down or take no for an answer. The viciousness of this particular type of cancer has left us all very little hope, but the human spirit is unrestrained and free, capable of more than we could ever imagine.
Of course my prayer is that my sister pulls through. I'm praying for a miracle. I'm praying that she has the opportunity to break through the dark waters and blossom in the light of the sun.