Painting My Tatas. Beyond Breast Cancer.

Stitched and Stretched Beyond Breast Cancer mixed media by Bernadette Rose Smith

Stitched and stretched. That’s what I’ve titled this piece because that’s what breast cancer ushered in with every decision I had to make. Cut it. Stitch it. Now, stretch it beyond anything recognizable as you.

Life flew apart like confetti without a party. Not unlike my private-moment, mixed media attempts at depicting this most bizarre journey. (And so shortly after losing Ray to cancer.) Countless bits and pieces, created with the best of intentions, were tossed in the trashcan next to me because they did not fit the picture as I had imagined.

The writer-me has freely spoken about her journey with breast cancer. The artist-me had not taken her shot at it. Quite frankly, she couldn’t get the writer to shut up long enough for the artist to quietly seat herself in the studio and ask, “How do you heal through this with art – not words?”

Stitched and Stretched Bare Beginnings Beyond Breast Cancer mixed Media by Bernadette Rose Smith

Each piece of paper, every bit of texture and slap of paint speaks to what this journey feels like through my artist-heart. And – more so – the desperately quiet pieces that landed in the trash with only my tears to witness. Read more

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Good Grief. Don’t Change the Channel.

Good grief. Don't change the channel.

A wise woman once told me that the higher purpose of grief is to recognize our longing for profound love.

Picture this. You’re watching your favorite television show – maybe one of the final episodes for the season – and you lose the signal. What do you do?

a.) Curse the station.
b.) Hit mute and stare in disbelief at the static, hoping the signal will reset on its own.
c.) Dive across the room, grab the tin-foiled rabbit ears, and strike a statue of liberty pose.
d.) Get up and do something else.
e.) All of the above, not necessarily in that order and possibly on rotation.

When someone you love dies, you lose their signal and, after the shock, sadness sets in. Somewhere beyond the cursing, muting and staring you start feeling the gravitational pull of grief. This is when societal intimation encourages you to “get up and do something else.” After all, if you get sucked in too deeply, you might crash. Better to stay busy while the gravity field weakens.

Except this gravity doesn’t weaken without the grace of a higher purpose.

Everyone is a channel for God – if you’re willing to listen to everyone. But you’re not. And you can’t. God knows that, so your significant channel signals are pre-set for what you need. Read more

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Shame On Me?

Shame On Me, a blog by Bernadette Rose Smith

I’ve been lost in a circle of shame. Lost with untold stories. And my partner in crime is not here to release me. He died of cancer.

I tell others that there is no shame in a mess. That it is all usable by the Divine. To turn that mess over to God and watch the miracles multiply.

It seems I hold myself to another, less forgiving, measure.

I found the quote above in a Somerset Life magazine that was tucked into a care package of goodies intended to help me heal from flu/bronchitis complications after my breast surgery. Dropped off by an earth angel who had no way of knowing the key to freedom her gesture – and this quote – offered.

I was in agony. Not from the flu or bronchitis or even the breast cancer. They paled in comparison to the hurdle mounting within me. Read more

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Dear Doctors, While you profiled stress, he died of cancer. #PTSD. #Depression. #Anxiety.

Dear Doctors, While you profiled stress, he died of cancer.

He didn’t have to die. Not the way he did. I write these words not for drama sake nor your pity and prayers. I have been silent, up to this point, in order to deal with my own health issue. But now that I am finished with what I hope to be my final big deal in this breast cancer journey, it’s time to speak up.

Denial never sustainably served anyone so I am not sweeping this under the rug.

Consider this post a tiny ripple in a vast ocean of health care despair; urging attention, focus and advocacy for solutions in a health care system that breaks as many hearts – in what they miss and dismiss – as the diseases/conditions they work to cure.

“… Ray lived only 50 days beyond diagnosis and most of that in a hospital. And now, I am left to digest that it was a slow-growing cancer, missed by a medical system of specialists and primary care that only looked at their piece of the elephant. A blog for another day.”

 I wrote that in July’s, Why I’m Not Fighting Cancer Again blog, and today is another day.

Why today? Because on February 6, 2017, I was not sitting at a keyboard in front of a computer screen. I was sitting in the emergency room of a hospital an hour away from home, terrified that someone I loved lost his footing and fell between the cracks within the medical community that was supposed to help him – to the point that suicide now appeared his only option for relief. Read more

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Breast Cancer. Two Cents Worth from My Tatas to Yours.

 

Breast Cancer My Two Cents Worth in Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room

The musings expressed here are strictly those of a woman making her way through breast cancer and are based solely on her personal beliefs and experience. They are not intended to sway or convince anyone of anything other than to honor-with-action what is right for them.

I’m following through on a decision for surgery this week with full knowledge that I will, no doubt, disappoint some folks before all this is over.

I gain no pleasure from being in this position to disappoint. As a matter of fact, I have spent the greater portion of my life working to resolve differences so as not to disappoint. There is an irony that I find myself exercising my option to displease with a life and death decision.

Who will be disappointed if I live – my way? Who, if I die – my way? I suppose that depends on how tightly the need to be right is clung to – your way.

If you are someone who loves me, I know you’ll get around to understanding what doing this “my way” allows me to reach for – no matter how this goes. The angels gave me matches to play with in this life, death, cancer thing and I am learning so much while blazing this trail. And not just for me. (“Whoa. We gave that child matches and a blog?” I hear them chuckling.)

If you are a distant-someone in my cancer circle and find yourself disappointed, perhaps you missed it back there somewhere. The invitation. What your path crossing mine was to give you. You may want to retrace your steps. Read more

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