Cancer was a good influence
An artist blogger wrote recently that people don’t come to your blog for your art, they come for you. If you can’t write something personal, something that lets people (hopefully, people who like your art) get to know you better, then you shouldn’t bother.
So since this is my first real blog post, I guess I better write about something important to me.
Two really important things have happened to me within the last 7 months. I was diagnosed with cancer in December ’09 and I started an abstract watercolor class at the Art Students League in June ’10. They may not look like equivalent events, but they both have taught and are continuing to teach me a lot.
So what did my bout with cancer teach me? (I’ll deal with the abstract stuff in my next blog.) It taught me about love and friendship and the appropriate/human way to respond to a friend in crisis.
After the diagnosis of anal cancer and all my bad jokes about what a pain in the ass this was, I got down to the serious business of my treatment: 2 weeks of chemo and two months of daily radiation at Roosevelt Hospital. Beyond the pain, which frankly wasn’t too bad, there was the mind-boggling inconvenience of not being able to sit down at all or even stand for too long. Try eating lying down … it’s exhausting when you don’t have a lot of energy to start with. And painting lying down was impossible (with an amazed nod to Matisse creating Jazz from his chaise lounge at the end of his life).
My husband, not otherwise known for his patience, was an absolute rock supporting and loving me every inch of the way. My son dropped everything in his packed schedule (as part of a software startup about to go live) to drive me to and from the hospital for treatment once a week. His girlfriend loaned me some hats when I lost my hair. Three other friends each gave up a day a week to drive me for treatment. Other friends and family called daily, weekly just to say hi, find out how I was doing and offer encouragement. My brother somehow knew to call when I was feeling low and he and his wife made four hour drives to bring me cooked meals and soup. Other friends came to visit, brought books, interesting discussions, and laughter. And people I barely knew called to say they were thinking of me and to wish me well.
It was awesome. But the comparison with my own behavior in the past was sobering.
Looking back at occasions when my friends or acquaintances were going through difficult times, I know I wasn’t as good a friend to them. I was too involved with myself. Now I know how it feels.
Though I’m certainly glad it’s gone, cancer was a good influence on me. I learned to really appreciate my family and friends and how to be a better friend myself.
Stay tuned for the next blog about my abstract watercolor class and what I’m learning from that.