In 2011 I was diagnosed with cancer and spent a year in treatment. That long year felt like a punishment, a prison sentence; all the while my mindset was that I was not really sick but a little voice would constantly ask me – would I make it through this? The world continued on its’ merry way while my life consisted of chemo/radiation appointments and anything hospital related. It was the strangest feeling. It was as if my world had come to a complete stop, with one focused purpose and I was stuck in a time warp while others continued working, travelling, partying and enjoying their lives.
The things that got me through this troubled time were, first of all my faith in a Creator and how through prayer He gives us the strength and courage to get through any challenge in life. Then my beloved family, my close friends who cared for me and held my hand through this insane time, as well as my two four legged “kids” Maggie and Tess who were always there to make me laugh. And most of all, my art or the act of creating. The thing that always transported me somewhere else, somewhere safe. However the trauma didn’t end there.
After that long year I started to have digestive issues and jaw pain along with neuralgia. What I wasn’t aware of was that I had had root canals in two molars that were infected and needed to be removed before my treatments as the infections were fueling my cancer. Now due to the treatments and a compromised immune system, the infection had been pushed into my jawbone. This is called a cavitation or osteonecrosis.
I spent the next eight years doing research and looking for a dentist who understood what could help me get a handle on the situation. Unfortunately, in many cases I knew more than the dentists I would visit. I travelled throughout Canada and the U.S. and had numerous surgeries and different treatments to address the infection but to no avail. The infection would promptly return after each and every surgery. I had been to various teaching hospitals but one of the biggest setbacks was the fact that many of these dentists did not know how to read scans and had never encountered this issue. I was an anomaly as blood tests further confirmed their statements that there was no infection so it had to be in my head! Who hasn’t heard that before?
I was then diagnosed with PTSD at that point, as I had been at war with this infection and no one could help me. I had had so many surgeries that I have been left with permanent damage to the ligaments and muscles in my face. The financial and emotional costs were astronomical!
SO, WHAT DRIVES ME TO CREATE, TO DRAW, TO PAINT?
Creation is an amazing calming antidote and a rebuilder. To see the beauty and grandness of it and realize how insignificant we really are, yet the Creator of it all promises to hold our hand and get us through any crisis and he did for me. Hiking in his grand creation is a huge part of my recovery process as is trying to capture the beauty and grandness I encounter as there are many scenes that can bring you to tears in appreciation. Painting trees, light that brings warmth and happiness, water that is so refreshing and encountering creatures along the way, just makes my heart sing. The myriad of colours found in flowers is astounding, as are the textures and shapes. We learn something new every time we are out in nature. Learning new things is part of my DNA so never stop learning.
Trying to capture the calmness, happiness and the feeling of being renewed is so important. I feel as if I am transported to another world. One of beauty and intrigue that needs to be investigated and put down on canvas.
This last decade has definitely changed me. I have learned forgiveness, patience, empathy, generosity and humility. But after much research I finally found a kind, amazing, talented man in Texas who was able to finally, properly diagnose the issue and got rid of my osteonecrosis of the jaw. Eternally grateful to Dr. Stuart Nunnally. That finally happened just before COVID came into our lives. So instead of constant research and surgeries I am now concentrating full time on my creating – my love of art! Putting this decade behind me and moving on. So please join me in appreciating this beautiful planet.