FUNDraiser set for Saturday. Nov., 15, 2014 7-10PM 1300 SE Grand Ave, Portland *Coava Coffee/Bamboo Revolution More info to follow. See page.
Preview from last night’s self portrait shoot. Blog post with more pics & the emotion behind releasing the wigs I wore during chemo coming soon. Though I look better & am happy to be alive, I am still dealing with some ongoing treatment and complications. (No medical advice here please.) 15 mo of treatment has become more than I was bargaining for. A party may be just what I need now in many respects! What do you think of wine and appetizer party in my studio (or elsewhere) with live music (hello talented friends) and a silent auction (ditto friends) to raise some funds? Or other ideas? If you want to help feel free to post or email me. Thank you so much for all the love and help you’ve already provided. I’m so grateful for my friends and family!!
Week 16. The Real Thing: Acupuncture. Shot Week 15
Since the beginning of chemotherapy I’ve been receiving weekly acupuncture through IEP (Immune Enhancement Program). They offer low cost traditional medicine and have a special program for people with cancer. I’ve also received Shiatsu (acupressure) and met with a naturopathic doctor there. In all honesty, I have no idea if it helps. Chemo make you sick. When you feel sick with new side effects all the time, how do you know if something has made you better or not? I feel sick, I go to acupuncture and feel somewhat better and relaxed during the treatment then I go home and feel sick again. I like thinking that I’m doing something proactive to help my body. I like thinking that the herbs and supplements make me stronger and ready to take the next rounds so I can get rid of cancer. In reality, I don’t know but I keep going.
These photos show my real world most days during chemotherapy. The recovery period lasted most of the two-week cycle until the next treatment. I want to be active, go to work, have my life back. However, the flood of drugs in my body and brain say otherwise. I do what I can and what I need to do. I lay on my couch, tell my cat she’s cute, eat so I can take more pills. Pills, pills, pills. Every few hours, I eat so I can take more pills. Anti-nausea pills, herbal pills, pills for pain, pills to sleep… I turn all the lights on so my house is bright even when I am not. I avoid the stacks of paperwork on my kitchen table: bills, applications, copies of blood work and appointments. I worry about the papers and bills I’m avoiding, but can’t wrap my chemo brain around them. I sit up and turn on my laptop to connect to friends on Facebook or think about the next photo shoot. On the days when I am not too dizzy or nauseated I go outside, ride my bike around the neighborhood, feel the air on my face. I think about how the context for exercise, as well as most other things in my life, has changed. How little accomplishments mean something now. I try not to measure this time by the same standards I had a few months ago.
Behind the Scenes: This was absolutely one of my favorite sessions, both because the artists involved were so fun, but also due to my attachment to the original concept. I envisioned my meditation being physically created on the Oregon coast and was able to articulate it to the creatives. They in turn ran with it and made it amazing. First I called Matthew Mattison. “Matthew, you don’t know me, but I know one of your clients. He has an octopus tattoo.” I proceeded to tell him about the Finding Beauty in Cancer project as well as the meditation, which was partially inspired by his tattoo. “I’m in,” he said. “You can have any Thursday, my day off.” Amazing generosity and so much raw talent. He literally took an ink pen and freehanded the “tattoo” onto me before painting it in with children’s face paints. Next I contacted Becca Blevins as I knew her dynamic wedding photography and could see her creating something dramatic at the Oregon coast. “Yes,” was her immediate answer. Then I contacted Kirstie Wright, my favorite local make up artist, to add the finishing touches. Perfect! The four of us, along with my good friend and sometimes photo assistant, Leisl Stientjes, traveled to Manzanita and the home of my new friend and client, Susan Sanderson, where I was gracefully laid out on the kitchen table and painted. As the afternoon light began to fade, Matthew and Kirstie applied the last of their color and we flew down the highway (wrapped in a shower curtain) toward Arcadia Park. The sun was setting as we ran toward the low tide.
This early morning was full of laughter. It’s true about it being the best medicine. I was full of life and love during this session, although my energy faded and I was exhausted just an hour into it. I couldn’t have chosen a better team of creatives. Not only were they tremendously talented, each very accomplished in their own field, but they all were hilarious. One funnier than the next and together an entire comedy show. I was doubled over with laughter at several points. “Stop moving, don’t smile, be still,” Kristen Arnett, our amazing make up artist and art director, would say as she applied my magical Cinderella make up. “Make the boys go away then,” I would reply. Tod and Dan would be sent to their corner of the woods to talk about spiders and spitting on fish so I would not crack up during make up. Heather and Colleen would then start with their banter from the trees and crack me up again. Beautiful, quiet Jessica would throw in a subtle punch line and make me lose it. “Stop laughing, you’ll ruin the make up!” Kristen was the most funny of all, however, and couldn’t help but throw in her two cents and I would nearly roll off the log that was my makeup stool. I laughed and laughed until my energy was all used up before we even got to the stone castle and the photo shoot. I then shivered as my hat came off and the shoot went on, trying to stay focused on the fun and not the fatigue, the joy of creating something beautiful and not the fact my legs were shaking from stepping up and down the stone steps as Cinderella ran from the ball to beat the stroke of midnight, wig in hand. My friends caught me as I fell sideways while trying to do the running away down the pathway shots and held me up as I nearly fell over climbing the fence to enter the forbidden area where we shot the lying down sleeping final images. I didn’t want to end the shoot or the morning with my friends, but my body was finished. I would hope to relive that day and dream team at any point in my life.