I am a patient at Roswell Park. I was diagnosed with stage 2B invasive ductal carcinoma in May of 2015, when I was only 29 years old. I have no family history of breast cancer. I was an active, healthy person who didn’t look or feel sick. I went through 18 weeks of chemotherapy, 30 radiation treatments, and 6 surgeries. I will be on endocrine therapy for 10 years.
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During cancer treatment, your body changes so much that it's hard to do things like a “normal” person. Your digestive system changes, your energy level is certainly not the same, and you have side effects from treatment and medications.
I am creative and have always loved art. As I grew in my career, my art became a distant memory, but during my breast cancer treatment, I began to paint again. I found this to be excellent therapy. The style in which I paint is very abstract and fluid. I rarely use paintbrushes. Although I always have an idea of what I want to accomplish when I start a piece, it never turns out the way I envisioned it would. Once I pour the paint onto the canvas, I only have so much control over it. As frustrating as that may be, in the end, I always create something beautiful. In this way, painting is very much like the journey through treatment. We all have an idea or hope of what might happen to us, but we don’t really have control over what actually does happen.
Because I feel so inspired when painting, I wanted to find a way to share this positive experience with others. With the help of the Wellness Program at Roswell Park, I’m now hosting paint nights for patients and their friends, family and caregivers. No artistic ability or painting experience is necessary. This is just a night where we can all be messy, not have to think about what is happening in our everyday lives, and enjoy one another’s company.