Hope rises like a phoenix from the ashes of shattered dreams. — S.A. Sachs
The Fabric Arts Council of the Craft and Hobby Association has launched a new charitable project titled Banners of Hope. Each 8” x 12” banner will be on display at the upcoming trade show and then travel to the Charity Wings Art Center where it will be featured in their 24 hour crafty online fundraiser before traveling to hospitals and other health centers around the country.
When offered the opportunity to participate, I leaped at the chance. This seemed a no brainer for me. Much of my work centers on the concept of hope often with a medical theme. But I will be honest, this project proved incredibly challenging.
For my entire life, I’ve been dealing with the health ramifications of chemotherapy and radiology treatments I received 40 years ago. When I was 7, I was diagnosed with Wilm’s Tumor Stage IV and was given 3-6 months to live. My family put me in an experimental study that saved my life. I’m grateful, but I’m fed up with living in the land of the sick. Every time I go to the doctor, dentist, physical therapist or any other health professional, I am told I’m a miracle. Really? I thought I just had pediatric cancer.
Doctors talk about cancer being in remission. They talk about cancers being cured. What they don’t talk about is the long term health ramifications of the treatments. Six years ago they became concerned with my health once again and put me through a battery of tests that freaked me out, cost me almost all of my $7500 insurance deductible only to be told that I have a series of health issues that concern them and which they wish to monitor. ARGH! So now, every year I have to submit to a series of tests and am told approximately the same thing. Helpful folks, very helpful.
The knowledge gathered from my body has been used for decades to help others, but at a high emotional and financial cost to myself. I’m not the only one in this position. There are enough of us now who have survived into our middle years that support groups and new studies have sprung up at hospitals across the nation.
When I looked at the work of other participants in the Banners of Hope project, I choked. I realized that I don’t feel very hopeful, more like resigned to an unpleasant situation and set of circumstances. I will never get out from under cancer and I just need to suck it up. With that said, I thought about what has gotten me through the worst of worse and that has been gardening. Not sickly hot house flowers given presented to patients and which rapidly die, but living gardens full of sunshine, warm earth and life itself.
So TA DA!! I painted a colorful, cheerful pattern of flowers, like a meadow mid-summer, across my banner. It’s not about hope, but a testimony to survival both for the patient and their families.