Seven women in my family have had breast cancer and 3 have survived. I am one of those survivors.
I have had 2 instances of cancer. The first instance appeared pretty standard. I had the tumor removed, and there was nothing in my lymph nodes. Radiation post-surgery and I was back to work and playing racquetball within a few months. Six months later, I started to experience pain that was so severe, it was difficult to pick up my head most days. I continued to play racquetball and communicated to my doctors about this pain. The thinking was that it was unlikely the pain was caused by cancer because all results pointed to complete elimination of tumor cells and I was taking daily pills to control any additional breast cancer cells.
After 6 months of back and forth to multiple doctors trying to figure out why I was having this devastating pain, it turns out that the breast cancer had metastasized, implanted in vertebrae in my neck and was growing. In order to contain cancer growing in bone, it had to be radiated. In 2012, there was a relatively new procedure where a multi-dose of one-time radiation was used to kill breast cancer that embeds itself in the bone. The procedure required a mask to be created and had me bolted down on a table in order for the doctor to administer the high dose of radiation to my neck. As a highly claustrophobic individual, that experience was one of the most horrific experiences I have had to date and it was a success!
Since this experience, I find myself painting every day. Everywhere I look I see paintings of people in wonderfully ordinary situations. My themes are everyday moments that tell a story. I am drawn to quiet emotions and invisible perceptions. I paint to generate compassion, reflection, and appreciation by recreating a simple moment and engaging the viewer in sharing and embracing the story.
My painting process has been an evolution over decades. As I begin each painting with a few lines, I continue applying layers of color for weeks or sometimes months. While the work develops, figures and objects emerge with a puddle-like quality. I work to achieve a silent energy by balancing figural composition with the application of color and texture.
As a Millersville University graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education, I taught high school at McCaskey for 6 years. Since then I’ve been an Information Technology professional at Meridian Bank, New Holland NA then onto GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals for the last 18 years. Through my work, I have had exposure to multiple cultures which has significantly influenced my painting.
I am a signature member of both Pennsylvania and Baltimore Watercolor Societies and have shown nationally and internationally since 1995. – Cheryl