The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: March 11, 2002
The Burning of Flashy Trashy
In 1990, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I chose to maximize my chances for remaining disease free by participating in an experimental protocol. Every day for eight weeks, I got in this cast to be zapped by five different views of radiation, my body like an air force target, permanently marked for radiation by tattoos. I experienced significant memory loss and a short attention span. To help rebuild my memory and attention span, I willed myself to spend an hour a day working on this piece.
No one can experience what I have and remain unchanged. It is very frightening to wake up and to discover a new person in a radically changed body that can never be trusted. Art has given my soul the chance to regenerate and reconnect to the person I have become.
The Flame Within X, XI, XII
I believe there is an internal flame that burns within each of us, kind of like a personal pilot light. There are times throughout our lives when that flame burns brighter or higher or with a special intensity. Throughout my five-and-a-half-year odyssey through the cancer experience, I have felt my own flame dwindle to a few embers only to be rekindled to a roaring fire. It has been through my artistic endeavors to document my experiences that my flame has been revived and nourished. I believe my art has contributed significantly to my recovery from metastatic breast cancer and to keeping me disease free despite overwhelming odds.
May 14, 2013 - For cancer patients, creative arts therapies are associated with improvements in psychological symptoms and quality of life, according to a systematic review published online May 13 in JAMA Internal Medicine.