the women in my family get breast cancer

the women in my family 1

the women in my family 2

I know getting a mammogram doesn’t really mean I will get diagnosed with cancer. I know this. Getting mammograms regularly and doing self exams is how they would diagnose breast cancer early enough that my survival chances would be much better. And maybe I will never get cancer, that’s also a possibility.

But still.

I think I will always be waiting for that shoe to drop, in the back of my mind. Grasping on the edge of fear every time my breasts are squished between two glass plates, worrying that this mammogram might be The Mammogram. Every time I prod my breasts with my fingers in a circular pattern, dreading the possibility of A Lump.

I know that I am not guaranteed to get breast cancer.

But still.

I’m really scared that I will. That my body will betray me. That my son will sit with me at chemo, shave my head for me, make me radiation mix tapes, hear me vomit in the middle of the night and lie awake with the terrible knowledge that his mama might die. That he’ll have to live un-mothered too young.

I want to live to be really, really old, with Greg at my side reminding me where my glasses are, getting to watch our children grow up. I want to live at the beach. I want to LIVE. Live, live live. Grow to a ripe old age. Mother my children, love my husband, document and process my experiences through art, watch all the movies, eat all the popcorn, dance with my sister, howl at the moon, love it all.

portraits of women i know

Women friends are very important to me. These portraits are mostly of local ladies who’ve come into my life in the past 5.5 years, with the exception of “Phoebe” who is my sister and has always been my best friend. Each of these women is beautiful and does important work for their community. Each of them is an artist (with food, animals, the land, plants, homemade beauty products, pottery, sewing, books, printing, photography, movies, drawing, painting, dancing, love, life). Each of them has touched my heart. Each of them inspires me. Each of them sat in front of me and let me look at them and translate what I saw onto paper.

(click on each image to see it larger.)

I’ll hopefully be exhibiting these somewhere at some point in the fall or winter.

girl friends

I’ve written about girl friends before on this blog; the specialness of those female friendships, whether they are long-time friends or new ones.

I spent this past weekend at a house in the woods with a group of ladies for my friend Leah’s bachelorette party. Spending time with 3 of my closest friends whom I’ve known since middle school was so wonderful. It had been about two years since we’d all been together, but whenever we are I am reminded of how much I love them and how much fun it is doing anything together. There were six other girls there– a couple I had met briefly, but most I didn’t know at all– and it was such a blast.  We laughed a lot and I felt so comfortable, present and happy.

I spend a lot of time alone these days. It can be hard to venture out of my studio apartment cave to socialize. This weekend reminded me how important friends are. I felt the deep connection with my old friends and the magic of meeting new people.

To all my great girl friends out there (including my mom, sister, aunts, cousins and grandma), old and new, this post is for you.

And a huge shout out to my BFF Shana (we met on the school bus 21 years ago) who just graduated from medical school!!! Good work Dr. Shosky!

And now here’s a comic about a recent day with Janet (an awesome lady I have known for over a year and a half now, who has quickly become a good friend and movie buddy):