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In my last blog I talked about my different kind of winter and how I started my chemo journey, and entered the world of leiomyosarcoma When I started this journey I heard of the phrase, NED. (No Evidence of Disease) I didn’t understand what it meant. But now after 12 chemo infusions I know intimately what it means, and how precious these three letters are. On March 13th I had my post chemo CT scan. Or as I like to refer to it, my trip into the doughnut. That is how I explained it to our nine year old daughter Samantha when she asked me what a CT scan was. “Well, I said to her, first I have to drink this very big drink, It takes about an hour to sip it all down. Then I lay down on a table and they slide me into a machine that looks like a giant glazed doughnut standing up on it’s side. Samantha thought that was very intriguing.
On My last day of chemo a friend gave me a gift. It was a poster filled with pictures of me and my family and friends throughout my journey. In between the pictures their were beautiful little drawings my daughter and her friends had made, along with little notes and kisses. In the middle of the poster was written a quote in big letters “ It always seems impossible until it’s over.”.
One of the things that felt the most impossible for me was to keep creating. When Gary and I started Studio 12 Thirteen years ago it was our intention to create a space where people could enjoy a quite moment, meditative if you will, a chance to re-connect with themselves. Caught up in the anxiety of the cancer/chemo journey I was forgetting what Studio 12 was all about. But, finally by round three of chemo my paint brushes and canvases saved me. They gave me a way out and a way to a happy cancer free self.
When I was wrapped up in the challenges of a painting, trying to capture what had moved me in nature, then I wasn’t thinking about cancer at all. In that creative process I was present to what was the most important part of my healing. Being happy, being present. Not being caught in worry, and fear.
For months my life was about 10 hour round trip drives to Chapel HIll and hours of being hooked up to an infusion machine.It was about taking various medications for chemo side effects and it was about eating a strict nutritious diet to stay healthy and strong, Now that It is all over. There is no more Chemo therapy, no more long trips to the hospital no more drugs to have to take to prepare for chemo, There is nothing more to fight back against. My CT scan came back clear! I am not Carolyn, fighting cancer. I am Carolyn Cancer free. I am NED! The fight I have now is to stay positive and to believe that I can continue to be cancer free.
People ask me how I am doing and I tell them that every day I get stronger and better. Each week the side effects of chemo minimize just a bit more. We all marvel at the little peach fuzz growing on my head. And after doing yoga for two weeks I can now touch my toes!
I belong to a club I never wanted to join, and felt sorry for people who were in it. But now I am a member of this cancer survivor club. I will meet people throughout my life who have also gone through or are going through this journey. While I never wanted to be a part of this, as a result I will unselfishly and generously share with my fellow members, just as others have done for me. I am not the same Carolyn I was last August when I did not know I had cancer. And I will never be the same Carolyn again. I hope I am a better version of myself, I hope I am the best version of myself. Through this cancer and chemo journey I remembered how important art is and how much I love to paint. I was reminded how importnat it is to have a creative outlet is to a have space to be happy in order to fee your soul. “It always seem’s impossible, until it’s done” said Nelson Mandela. It did seem impossible, and now it is done! I am proud to have Studio 12 and to offer to our customers a place where they can let their creative juices shine, a place where they can enjoy a moment of happiness, I hope that their time at Studio 12 helps to feed their souls. While I am now a member of this new club that I never wanted to join, I also plan on staying a member of the NED club for a very long, long time!
Carolyn created 15 paintings during her chemo journey. All of her work is on display in the Studio 12 gallery. A portion of the proceeds form the sales of the paintings will be donated to the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports Hatteras Island residents in cancer treatment and to the Leiomyosarcoma Direct Research Foundation working – not wishing – for a cure.
Take a class with Carolyn this summer, she will be teaching painting as well as glass fusion. Visit the website for class details.