so, I got good news back from my surgeon yesterday... the microscopic analysis of all the tissue samples from my surgery came back negative! YAY!!
so, basically, I dodged a bullet: I dodged a whole arsenal of bullets, actually.
These test results mean I don't need chemotherapy, and that I will only need follow-up appointments from now on (what these will consist of, I don't know yet) to make sure I don't have any cancer recurrence in the future.
now, I just need to focus on recovering from the surgery, and on staying healthy!
thanks to everyone for your positive thoughts for good test results and a quick recovery!
Just a couple more journal pages- these were made a couple weeks ago, while I was recovering from the surgery I had on May 15th. Some personal stuff to follow, but... since I use my blog sometimes to 'process' and work through stuff, as well as to remember things later, here it goes:
It was a stressful couple weeks: having the surgery and recovering from the surgery- not feeling like myself, no energy, etc. etc. I had scheduled two weeks off work to recover (yay! for laprascopic surgeries), and had a follow-up appointment with my doctor scheduled for 4 weeks after surgery. One week after the surgery, the doctor's office called- the nurst said, "the doctor has an opening tomorrow at 1:20 and would like you to come in." Well, that's not good now, is it?!? Especially since I knew I shouldn't be seeing him for another three weeks... I immediately called Tom, who rearranged his work schedule for the next day to drive me to the doctor. (Not that I'll forget anytime soon, but that follow-up appointment was on May 22nd...) I was kind of defensive with the doctor when he came into the exam room (who wouldn't be in those circumstances, right?) but he was really nice about it-- no beating around the bush, no 'niceties' to pass the time, or anything like that to prolong the waiting...
As soon as the doctor said the words 'malignant tumor' my ears sort of turned off for a few minutes, I think. It was really weird; it was like I was hearing things underwater, or something like that-- it's hard to describe. So, that was the news... one of the fibroids he had removed wasn't a fibroid at all, but was a tumor on my ovary. But wait, there was some goodnews, too, actually, if you want to call it that- and I do choose to call it good! The good news is, it was smaller than average, and we caught it early! That is a HUGE thing: if I hadn't decided to have the surgery I did, who knows when we might have finally realized what was going on?? Another good piece of information is that it's a slower-growing type of cancer with a very high survival rate when treated.
Another very good thing is that he even sent it to pathology at all, since we didn't have any reason to suspect any sort of cancer prior to the surgery. This whole chain of events may actually have saved my life, or at the very least, saved me from medical issues that could have ended up being much worse. (This doctor is going on my Christmas card list, for sure!) The doctor said something like 'this isn't a very good birthday present' (my 43rd birthday was on the 27th) but I actually disagree. Oh, not about the cancer itself (that sucks!), but the fact that I know about it, and that we're now taking the proper steps to treat it?!? That is a HECK of a good birthday present, in my opinion!!
So, in the last few weeks, I've done more art journaling than I have in months... including the pages with doodled circles and the scribbled circles that I made in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. Although I didn't do it consciously (I've just been drawn to using circles lately), all the circles I've been using on my recent pages probably do represent cancer cells. (I didn't see the connection at all, but Tom noticed that right away). I guess this is one of those things that proves for me, art journaling has become my own personal art therapy process: the cutting, pasting, painting, and doodling (and scribbling!) is almost meditative for me, once I get into 'the zone' and get out of my own head. (That whole 'getting out of my own head' process is important for me: the inside of my head can get pretty crowded sometimes!)
I've already gotten lots of very good advice from some very wise people (my older sister, my mother, Tom, and our good friends Mike and Billie, to name just a few) about how to get through this whole experience... I have very good doctors looking after my medical needs, and I have a lot of very good friends and family looking after my emotional needs. And, there's a good chance I won't even need chemotherapy: if the cancer was confined only to the tumor on that ovary, we'll just have to keep an eye on things for the future in case there's a recurrence. I'll know the answer to that question sometime in the next couple weeks, since I'm having a second surgery this next week so the doctor can 'stage' the cancer. (Click here for a general description of the staging process.)
So, now that I've gotten here, I don't really know how to end this post- I'm reallynottrying to say 'oh, poor me' or garner loads of sympathy by writing this post. Although your good thoughts are most definitely appreciated! :-) I guess, I wrote all this more because I know I'd feel awkward (? not sure if that's the right word, but it's the best I can come up with) if I didn't at least mention it here, since this whole experience is influencing my journaling (at least for the time being) and I don't want to censor myself too much when I post photos of my journal pages. I may not always write out my feelings / emotions in words on my pages, but they're there in the art, nonetheless, and I guess I wanted to be candid about their origins.
As well as to make another public service announcement, like I did a couple years ago after I had the stroke: make sure you get regular check-ups, don't ignore issues when they do come up (like I have done sometimes in the past, to be totally honest), and if something doesn't seem right, keep following up!
(and again, your good thoughts are truly appreciated!)
Once I'm feeling up to it again, I'll be back with more journal pages, I'm sure. (now that I've replenished my glue stick supply- lol!!)
a couple more of my recent journal pages, one finished, and one not.
First is the unfinished one:
This page has a painted background (over collaged paper, which you can sort of get a 'feeling' for, underneath the paint in a few places), an image from a home and garden magazine, and a hummingbird and flower drawn onto tracing paper. Below is a close-up image from the lower left part of the page, where you can see a bit of striped paper,and a barcode strip beneath the layers of paint. I haven't done this technique in a while (even this base page was made sometime a year or two ago, I think), but it is a fun technique; I'll have to make another page or two like this soon.
I sort of 'cheated' with the hummingbird: I traced it (and the flower) from a magazine (thanks for the tracing paper, Jude!) and then colored it on the reverse side with colored pencils. (looking at this photo, it appears a bit more like a duck-bill than a hummingbird's beak- looks like I need a new eraser, since the one I used apparently left a huge smudge- lol!)
The page below is finished. No writing (again), but I really like the mood / feeling of it, and think it's perfect just like it is. The background started out with Dylusions spray inks (bubblegum pink and lemon zest- I absolutely love both of those colors- sprayed over a vintage doily (upper left-hand corner), then I added things in the same colors... a piece of Japanese paper (the bunnies, from the Paper Studio), shapes cut from magazine pages, a quote and image from a magazine, paper I painted (the yellow lined paper), a bit of scrapbooking sticker border (the yellow polka-dot), and a bit of fabric border (the pink scallop).
Below is a close-up of the central part of the page, so you can see the little birdie sitting on top of the letter I. (I think I got this out of an Oprah magazine, along with the quote.) You can also see the paper circles closer; I just took colors that matched (some of it was even from a dress in an advertisement, I think), and started cutting and layering circles.
I really like the idea of making a page based around color, or a mix of colors, and will definitely be doing this again, possibly even an entire journal with this theme. I usually have an issue with 'themed' journals or photo albums, but a theme of color, I think I can get behind!!
At one point yesterday (while we were outside viewing the transit of Venus across the sun), Tom decided to get something from the garage to rest the binoculars on, in hopes of getting a steadier view for photo-taking. While he was gone, I shot a picture of the tree branches above me. (the original of that shot is the second picture below.)
This Polaroid-type photo is those tree branches, after processing with about 5 or 6 different editing options in Picasa. I have no idea how many, actually, or what they all were, but I think it turned out way cool! (It reminds me of a fabric design, sort of...)
again, below is the original photo-- (I really think the edited one is much more interesting!)
the next photos are a couple random cat pics... first is Ariel, just 'hanging around' the kitchen. Literally. I have no idea why she likes to drape herself over the kitchen chairs like this, but she does it quite often, and in this photo that Tom took, she's actually got her eyes shut, so she must be comfortable?!? (or else she's narcoleptic, and can fall asleep anywhere... wait, every cat can do that, right? haha!!)
Of course, I can't leave Butters out of this now, can I?? (gotta give the kitties equal time on the blog!) Butters wasn't herself a couple weeks ago... not being very friendly, not sleeping with us on the bed, not very active. She's back to normal now, though! (I think it was because she finally got rid of a couple hairballs... icky, I know, but it's part of life as a cat owner, unfortunately.) She spends her evenings either curled up on a kitchen chair, or hanging out on the back of the loveseat like she is below. Either way, it's so she can have a direct view out to the backyard, and any possible bird / stray cat / lizard action.
For something even more random, how about this next pic?? Over Memorial Day weekend, when I was doing my journal-page-painting on the patio, Tom and I got to talking about how sunny it was outside... somehow, the conversation turned to the fact that I'd never done (or even seen) the 'light-something-on-fire-using-the-sun-and-a-magnifying-glass' thing, so Tom proceeded to demonstrate it for me:
awww, isn't that sweet?? lol!! It's going in my journal! (it really was cool, and really, I never had seen it before. and no, we didn't do it on any ants.)
oh my gosh, wow!! Isn't this cool? Below is a photo of the planet Venus beginning its transit across the sun...
(and no, we didn't take this photograph; I borrowed it from Reuters/NASA). Our efforts weren't quite so successful.
I tried the 'pinhole-in-a-piece-of-paper' method, which failed miserably. Tom found out that we could use the binoculars to focus the light onto a surface, which did work. (it was very bright, though, which is why the contrast in these photos is just ridiculous. I did what I could with them.)
He held the binoculars as steady as possible, and focused them as much as possible-- it was really cool! We could actually see Venus, and Tom, with his super-sharp vision, could actually see three or four sunspots, as well. Over the course of the couple hours we could see it, I took well over 80 photographs. It was frustrating, because we could see Venus by looking at it, but I couldn't figure out how to set the camera to actually capture the image. In those 80+ photos, I actually (amazingly, and I don't know how I did it) got a couple photos that actually worked!
Here's one that I did a lot of processing on; cropped it really close, and I think changed it to 'heat map' to cut down (some) on the contrast. The large green disk is the sun, and the light green dot, there, is actually Venus!!
Here's the clearest photo I got... Venus is clearly visible in this one!! It was hot (and sunny) outside, and most of the photos didn't work, but it was definitely worth all the effort to see this!
(PS: I didn't have time to do any art journaling, what with trying to see Venus and all, but I'll be back with some more journal pages soon.)
Buy a case of large glue sticks. (I used up my last one yesterday- eek!!) If not an entire case, then at least three or four, so I always have a spare- LOL!! edited to add:done! (went to M's at lunch, and picked up a few. Also something else- with a 50% off coupon- that I'm excited to play with!)
Sort through my 'art journaling' paper boxes- done! (I have a couple boxes of assorted paper I keep specifically for journaling- scraps of scrapbooking paper, vintage book pages, magazine pages, images, words, letters, etc. I recently went through them and got rid of a lot of pieces I decided I wouldn't ever use... odd-colored paper, tiny scraps an inch square, magazine pages and images I tore out at one time thinking I might use them, but now, a couple years later- nope. So, out they all went, to the recycle bin. They were taking up valuable space!)
Go through my most recent 'scrapbooking' paper scraps and add some of them to my journaling paper boxes to freshen up my art journaling supplies. (Since I made room for them- LOL!!)
Go through some of my assorted random magazines and pull out images, text, and pages I might use for journaling; add to journaling boxes. (Again, since I made room for them!) Recycle remainder of magazines.
Make new art journal page(s): dig through my 'art journaling' paper boxes and pull out all papers and images in the same color range and cut, tear, and glue with abandon!
(somehow I think I'll probably tackle this list out of order: #1, then #5... lol!)
Of course, I also have 'regular' things that could go on this to-do list as well, like laundry and grocery shopping, but where's the fun in that?? Those things will get done eventually, but I don't like to be reminded of them... and I really don't want to forget to do the fun things!
remember this page that I showed you a couple posts ago?
Well, it doesn't look exactly like that anymore:
I didn't alter the figure too much, but I did add to her hairdo with Sharpie poster-paint pens, changed the color of her eyes with my Sakura glaze pen, and decided to go a bit crazy with the background. If you haven't scribbled on anything for a while, I highly recommend it!! It's really therapeutic, and unlike doodling, scribbling doesn't require any thought at all about pattern or repetition.
Above is a detail of the scribbled background. (scribbling is the most fun with a good, soft pencil, a nice heavy-line marker, or even a crayon; you really should try it!!) Again, I think this page is done- no writing necessary; her expression (and the scribbling) says everything that I need it to.
This page most likely isn't done yet, but I love how the painting turned out! It was made with one of my favorite stamps ever, which is bubble wrap! I love how bubble wrap gives such an 'imperfect' pattern, and adds a bit of texture from the thickness of the paint.
Above is a close-up of the yummy texture and pattern bubble wrap gives. If you haven't tried this yet either, what are you waiting for??
This page is collage only, and was pretty simple: a magazine photo, a printed quote I found on the internet, and a couple pieces of collage paper with a bit of red wax pencil on the tissue-paper heart for texture.
Another doodled page made with red and white wax pencils, soft black pencil, and a few circles cut from a vintage National Geographic. Doodling with repetitive shapes is also quite therapeutic-- you should definitely try it sometime! Well, that's all the newest pages I've worked on in the last couple weeks... I think that means it's time to do some more! :D
it was really sunny outside when I was painting over the weekend- I put my pages outside on the gravel, and they dried in no time! My new / old paint palettes are two muffin tins I got from the Goodwill store; they work great, except they got pretty hot after sitting out in the sun to dry!
The page below was started a couple weeks ago when I was at the Honda dealership, getting my brakes repaired. Later, I added some stamping to it (the brackets you can sort of see on the right-hand side), decided I didn't like it, and covered it up with gesso and watercolor crayons. ...I like it much better now!
The page below is technically not a page yet; it's a piece of random paper I had underneath my work surface so it would get paint and overspray on as I worked. I like how it turned out, and will probably use it for collage sometime.
The two photos below are the 'stuff' part of this post! Last weekend (on Sunday, I think) we had the windows open in the morning, and Tom said he heard quail outside. I thought they sounded awfully close, so I looked, and took some pictures through the window screen. Do you see it? (just kidding; I don't think it's in this one-- it was moving kind of fast.)
Here it is, in the photo below! This is a Gambel's quail, which is easily distinguished by its scaly-looking plumage and its funny, bouncy topknot. This quail meandered around the front yard, to our delight (and that of the cats!), and there was even a bit of a wildlife show-- he wandered out into the road where he met up with another quail who was in the yard across the street! There was a short scuffle, then he came back into our yard and the other one retreated back to the neighbor's yard. It was really fun to watch them, and I certainly hope they come back again soon.
This journal page is another 'doodled' page; it started out with a blue acrylic background, I added the large circles / bubbles, then added the gold ones in the empty spaces. After the paint dried, I added details with soft pencils in black and white. I really like how this page turned out, and I think this one is another 'art only' page; I don't want to write over it, or add anything more to it.
Here's a detail shot of the 'bubbles' from the page above:
Not sure if I'll do any more painting for a while again; I go in spurts where I want to do painting (and don't mind the mess), then switch to pasting, gluing, collaging, and doodling for a while. I think now that it's 105+ degrees out already, I may switch to collage and doodling till we get a cold spell! (but then again, that could take till October or November, though... lol!!)