A little less than two years ago, I was bald, 6 weeks into a 5 month chemo protocol, and facing the fact that I was going to have a bilateral mastectomy. The mastectomy was a no-brainer for me personally, as it was the one thing my mom didn’t do to fight her breast cancer. However, that didn’t make me immune from all the thoughts and feelings that come with losing my breasts. As I sifted through all the information about reconstruction options as well as the possibility of not reconstructing, I knew that my emotional healing from this surgery was going to take time. I was anxious about permanently losing a part of myself, literally. So I decided to make breast casts with my husband prior to the surgery, because at least that would be one way to visually have a reminder, for myself, my husband and my children.
The day that we did the casts, I wrote this brief post on my recovery updates blog “First booby cast done! I am hoping to get a couple of different ones done and then perhaps create a mold? Who knows, I have some themes that I think would be interesting to explore artistically. Or perhaps I will just end up with a basement full of ta-tas. Disembodied ones at that! Suppose I could always use them in a haunted house or something…”
You see, it just takes one creative spark to initiate a healing process, because as treatment began to wind down, I realized that I could use the casts to process the experience artistically, which is what I began to do on the one year anniversary of my diagnosis.
A few months ago, as I was thinking about the bittersweet month of October, the idea of having an art show and talk came to me. Since I am a big believer in the healing powers of connection, I felt that honoring the month in this way would be tremendously powerful and meaningful. For many survivors, the commercialization of the issue is very troubling even when they are simultaneously thankful for the focus on breast cancer. It also seemed like an opportunity to take the reflection to a deeper level, I have sifted through my notes, blog entries, and sat with the art I have created, to craft a presentation that would tie in the concepts of healing body, mind, spirit, and self through the lens of art.
If you have been noticing your own creative sparks- pay attention. These sparks might be the first steps that you need to take to heal from a life threatening condition. Creativity is an expression of one’s deepest wisdom.
And getting back to that art show and talk idea I mentioned, I am excited to announce that on October 19th, at the Cancer Community Center in South Portland, Maine, I will be presenting “A breast cancer story through art”. I hope that you will join me, register by clicking on this link https://cancercommunitycenter.org/event/breast-cancer-story-art/. Namaste.
– Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Creative Transformations offers individual sessions, in person or via Skype, workshops, and this weekly blog. Sign up today so you never miss one by visiting: www.creative-transformations.com.