Ricë and I did a podcast on Cancer and Creativity this week. I invite you to listen to it and enjoy.
Recently in Cancer Category
David and I raised a collective, $9,191.81.
This has been one heck of a year. You guys have helped me through it in more ways than you know. My world and the love in it has expanded and without measure. I continue to heal, David and I both continue to heal, it is not easy to be a care taker. Thank you for the cards, artwork, hats, letters, thank you for the love.
If you want to donate money and have not yet done so, please do! David's workplace will match all funds up to a specified amount and I would love it if we topped the $10,000.00 mark! Here is David's page and here is mine.
It was an emotional thing to walk. Tears were just under the surface for me, sometimes popping right out. And if you follow me on facebook you will know that I wondered if I could handle wearing the t-shirt that indicates I am a survivor. I wore it, no biggie. The best part was looking straight into a fellow short haired survivors eyes and smiling. Her smile in return was tentative at first, then broad.
It took us 1 hour, 23 minutes and 23 seconds to reach the finish line. If you know me, I was expecting the walk to be more like exercise and less like a saunter. My walking pace is fast, David can't often keep up and needs to remind me to slow down. We sauntered. I kept my eyes peeled and checked the other survivors out. It was fun.
Thank you for supporting us.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and that I have been going through treatments for the last 8 months. I am happy to say that I have also been writing my second book, soaking up the love of my readers, (you, that means you) and living life to the fullest of my ability throughout. It has not been as easy as I may make it appear, it is what it is. Cancer. Chemotherapy. Surgery. Radiation.
So David and I have decided to Walk for the Cure (this link will bring you to my 'page' the the Komen web site). This coming September 18, we will walk 5 kilometers through New York City to bring awareness and to raise money for a good cause. I hope to raise a minimum of 250.00 for Komen for the Cure. I have used their site to educate and inform myself, and I would like to give back.
Please sponsor David and I (this link will bring you directly to a donation page linked to my participation) with as much money as you are able and willing to give. It has been a long few months and my intense treatment is almost at a close, what better way to celebrate than to walk for a great cause?
To sweeten the deal, if you make your donation public, I will draw a name from that hat and send you some Melly Made Swag.
P.S. Here is where the money goes.
I am recovering from surgery. In many ways it was much easier than I would have expected, in others I wish it could go a little more quickly. I really need to rest right now, and I find it difficult not to paint, write, do. But I am allowing my body the rest it needs and is asking for.
So many of you have kept me in your prayers, thoughts and minds. To each of you, thank you. I am amazed by our community and your appreciation of me, my art, this blog. I continue to heal and I look forward to finishing up some projects. But for now I rest.
Stitching seems to be a calming reprieve and a friend gave me the best canvas, a vintage, white peasant blouse. I keep it in bed and stitch while awake, nap and wake to stitch again. It's fun. How often does life slow down to this pace! I am enjoying it.
I love keeping little alters, places of repose to gaze upon and rest in. This is a framed piece by my good friend Jane LaFazio, with a lantern, a christmas cactus and a piece of chalk (and some dust).
As I have been resting in bed, experiencing the effects of chemotherapy in my body, I have gazed upon this little alter often.
I don't know if you have been following me on facebook but! The chemotherapy has worked and done its job. I am finished with that portion of my treatment! Thank goodness. Let's high five and breathe a sigh of relief on that account.
I am going to try to be honest. I feel tension in myself, a need to project a stalwart demeanor while at the same time, wanting to be true to myself, to you, to life. I could quite simply say, I am tired of having cancer, maybe just tired. The fatigue that comes with the chemotherapy is tremendous. My heart pounds with simple movement, like taking the stairs, turning over in bed, sometimes thinking feels strenuous.
At the same time I am writing my second book and I am so eternally grateful to the spirits that be-that all of this crazy portion of life has come together, at the same time and in this configuration. I cannot show images of my work, I would rather you purchase the book! But I can show you my messy work table.
Being able to journal while thinking about how best to describe the process and to sit and write out my thoughts is a boon and a saving grace. Immersing myself in something fruitful and engaging is what I need right now. I just came off of 5 or more days of recovery, and when I am unable to make, to do, my mind can go to the lowest points imaginable. So today, I painted spirits looking down, gowned and present, a funky bottle glassed man walking as if within sleep, to a house surrounded by creatures and dragons, topped with a a wondrous pearl. It was like walking through a dream, time fell away, my fatigue vanished. Ah, just...what I needed.
I have known that I have breast cancer for just short of 2 months. It has been a journey. It is teaching me to accept help, love and care. To ask for help, love and care. I would have thought this would be an easier task than it is. I am learning, softening and changing. I am looking forward to another Box of Love (presents from you my good reader, sent to me from Leslie) on Monday.
I truly and honestly love and appreciate your care, the time it takes to write the card, knit the hat, dye the scarf. I do have a niggle of doubt that it would be better if I were to model the hats and keep track of the loot. I am sorry that I am not doing this. I am having a hard time looking at photographs of myself at the moment. I will work through this with myself. But I do want you to know how far your love and care goes and that it means so very much to me.
The Journal Study Gals (including Benedicte who is working on a web site and The Pampster, who has no web presence) have been on a postcard campaign and have made mail time lots of fun! I get almost a card a day (Except when the mail man feels lonely and hangs onto one the the jewels for a little longer than necessary). All of this has been a real boon to my spirits.
Thanks and love to all of you.
I am amazed by your support and generosity. Amazed. Thank you so much for supporting me with comments, cards, soft hats, hand dyed scarves, hippo toys, tea, magnets, ribbon pins, goofy hats, pink ribbon stoles, stuffed birds, and all you are. It's just plain Love.
I am sorry that I cannot send thank you notes to each and every one of you. I really am trying to focus my energy on healing first and art making second. I also have a Man who I needs love and affection too.
Someone even honors my Arrowcat who can sniff through any box, knowing the presense of good is inside...
And if any of you follow me personally on facebook (where I will give short updates as to my health and personal life), you will know that I think BUGS should be my totem creature right now. They are resilient, long standing and indefatigable. Traits I want to embrace.
Wish me luck today.
Much love right back to you.
With my breast cancer diagnosis came a shift in my perception of self, what is important and 'the bottom line'. Life, those I love, my feline person, my art, all important stuff. Hair, will grow back. They told me this would be the week my hair fell out and they were right. My Man shaved what hair I had yesterday morning. It was a relief really, much better than watching it fall.
And if any of you have been reading for a while, you will have ascertained that quick sketching is not something I embrace, rather, I like studied portraits, in depth explorations of shape and proper proportion. So why not make quick self portraits part of my daily routine? Quick gestures that capture this new emergence of self and self image?
Done deal. The Butter Box Book seems a great repository for this!
I have a secret, I need to be cagey about it. I have been being creative and doing work. But... That is all I can say about that.
I just received a telephone call from the nurse practitioner who 'saved my life'. I'd gone to her office last October wondering about some lumpiness. She told me to get a mammogram and then see a specialist. I got the mammogram and was told all looked fine, I hesitated to call a specialist thinking I would be wasting their time. The nurse practitioner called me, on my cell, twice. She asked me to follow up with a specialist and told me the exact words to say when I made the appointment. I called and made the appointment to appease her.
After my diagnosis, I wrote her a thank you note. I thanked her for calling me and pushing me to follow through.
Over the phone she deflected my thanks, redirected it to my own need to know and was quite humble. I don't care. She is my angel. And I am not the angel sort, that is a bit fru-fru for my taste. But now, I have an angel.
These are my current comforts. The objects I want nearby and on my person. A troll bead bracelet that I wear in common with my beautiful mother, A silver gentle cuff that she slipped on my wrist on Christmas eve night.
My Grandmother Testa's beautiful diamond earrings.
A cowl, knit with love and care by Cricket.
A stainless steel bracelet with private and strengthening meaning given by my Man.
As you might imagine, these last few weeks have been surreal. I don't know how I will proceed in talking about my medical adventures, I think it will come about of its own accord. I do, for the most part feel I am on the outside looking in, so when I saw this little tableau in the subway, I snapped a quick photo. I know that soon my treatment will begin and my two selves will merge. It has become simple. There really is just one day at a time, and to take it further, one hour and one moment at a time.
All the same, I am amazed, thankful, grateful and humbled by your outpouring of support, care and love. Thank you. I am grateful to Leslie for taking such care, for listening to my fears and needs and for composing such a loving telling of this reality. She has been a stalwart friend and helper.
And you, dear reader. I would never wish cancer, sickness or any major life challenge on anyone. Now that the world looks me in the eye and blinks deeply, I know it is my time to fight this battle. I did not think half so many people would respond. And what a sense of balance and comfort you have given me. And for all of these reasons, I thank you.
All the while and in my most crazed moment, I took a breath. I realized that there is another woman in a parallel life who does not have art as solace and guidance. Who does not feel the grace and breath of color being mixed, brush being loaded, paper colored. She cannot express her fear, rage, strength and love for all the women who have come before and will come each day again and again to this same diagnosis. But I do.
This much I know, art saves lives. It has saved me before and I ask it to save me again. So let's 'make shit' like our lives depend on it. It does.
Hi. My name is Leslie Tucker Jenison. Melly is a good friend of mine and has asked me to do a guest-spot on her blog.
I wish I could tell you that I was here to talk about something fun and happy, but that is not why I am here.
Instead, I'm going to talk about love.
Before I get to the part about love I need to tell you something that will be tough to read:
Melanie has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
She found out recently and is trying to get her mind around it.
She is in the process of being tested and working with her medical and surgical team to make a plan of treatment.
Here is what I can tell you: she will undergo chemotherapy for about 18 weeks, followed by surgery and radiation therapy.
Here is the love-part:
Melly cares so much about how her friends and students will receive this information. It is really hard for her to talk about her diagnosis right now.
She wants you to know, but she hopes you will respect the fact that, for the time-being, she just isn't up to talking about it or even
writing about it directly. She is still trying to get her footing. Short, upbeat emails or comments on the blog are okay. She is mainly trying to control the input of information, at this point.
I have a favor to ask:
Melly is going to need some new couture for her head. Who better than a crazy group of fiber artists to supply her with some groovy headgear?
If you are inclined to make something for her, she has requested that these be sent to me and I will consolidate her mail and send it on to her.
Please do the same for any cards and letters you wish to send.
Here are some suggestions for what she could use. If you have a favorite pattern for a knitted cap I would like to encourage you to go for it.
Melly has a 23-inch noggin.
Please keep in mind that whatever you make should be soft with no hard embellishments or "doodads" on it. Soft and snuggly is good!
Dharma has this circular knit scarf
I know Melly likes the 36x36 or 44x44"
Or a bandana
Send hats, scarves, and letters to:
c/o Leslie Tucker Jenison
104 Ponca Bend
Shavano Park TX 78231-1425
I am everywhere!
My gallery: MelanieTesta.com
Inspired to Quilt fan page!
Hear me Tweet!
My You Tube Channel
2011 Class Schedule/Travel Schedule
Hudson River Valley Art Workshops
Upstate NY, September 8,9,10, 2011
Switzerland, October 13-16, 2011
For more information: Workshop/Schedule.