This unusual breast cancer survivor art pendant is a graphic portrayal of this disease. The blackened wound. The hole. The residue of radiation. Yet surrounded by brightness and beautiful colors.
What does this sculpture bring to your sensibilities? Ugliness? Beauty? Disease? Healing?
The fact that my mother - an active tennis player, golfer, and nonsmoker - was touched by cancer deeply affected how I viewed the world. The morning of her mastectomy surgery in 1996, we contemplated her life as an effective educator, her love of bridge, and her promising watercolor art business. After the surgery, months of chemotherapy and radiation scarred her body, but not her soul. This ceramic sculpture represents one woman's journey from loss to acceptance. The glass marbles in one breast symbolize the international radiation symbol; the hair texturing is full of the peaks and valleys of life; and the beaded earring evokes a sense of elegance and style.
"Contemplating Old Wounds" won the Best of Show in the 2004 Valley Sculpture Artists art competition and an Award of Merit at the 2004 State Fair. It was the first in a series of breast cancer sculptures honoring my mother, Mary Marshall. Size: 12W x 16H. Click for more breast cancer art images.
The last year of my mother's life was one of dignity, pain, memories, assistance, sadness, humor, and appreciation for a life well lived. Mary Ellen Carter Marshall had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 at the age of 62. She did not smoke, drink, or take drugs. She was the most physically active woman I knew, being an avid tennis player, golfer, walker, and bicycle rider. She was a Silver Master bridge player. She ate nutritious food (aside from the occasional See's chocolate!). She dedicated her working life to serving Sacramento's children as a teacher and principal at numerous elementary and middle schools. She volunteered her time at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's Oak Park Preschool and other community organizations. After retirement in 1989, she pursued her lifelong hobby of portrait drawing and developed it into a full-fledged and profitable watercolor art business. Her three children and three grandchildren observed an unusually active mother and grandmother who played tennis with them, encouraged them to paint, beat them unmercilessly at Scrabble, and . . . made the occasional batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
A lengthy course of chemotherapy and a mastectomy seemed to chase the cancer away and seven years had passed cancer free giving her an almost normal life again. However, the scourge came back during the summer of 2003 migrating from her breast and filling her lungs with poison. Herceptin - an inhibitor against breast cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation seemed to nip it in the bud again during the winter of 2003, but it came back stronger and stronger each summer, until 2006 when the doctors said it had spread throughout her brain. The next six months - her last - zapped her ability to care for herself. Bedridden and unable to move her limbs, she still entertained with dignity the many friends and family who loyally visited her everyday. She never lost her spirit. She never stopped trying to be a contributing part of this world.
This great lady joined her deceased mother and siblings on January 27, 2007. This blog is dedicated to her and all who have fought, or who are still fighting the fight with breast cancer.