Monday, October 15, 2012


Warrior.  Beaded letters read:  Prayer, Genetic Testing, Radiation, Missing Work, Colonoscopy, Fear, Mastectomy, Preventive Hysterectomy, Chemotherapy, Remission, Losing Hair, Cancer Questions, Survivor, Insurance Problems, Urging Others to Get.....Stitched words:  Regular Check Ups.  Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin.  Hand beaded and stitched.  Unframed:  25" x 19"; Framed 31" x 25".  Click on image to enlarge.

This is Tina Kuhr, my very best friend.... from clear back in the fourth grade.  We were Girl Scouts together and in most of the same college-prep classes throughout high school.  We were disasters at middle school summer tennis camp and took refuge in the library.  We hated gym.  We were "smart".  Our fathers were Slippery Rock University professors.  We both graduated early from the college of our choice.  Tina went to Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh; their scholarship offer was better than MIT.  Tina's REALLY engineer.  The first wedding we were ever in was mine.  The second was hers.  We are both the mother of two sons.

We are also very different.  I don't have a blood relative who’s ever had cancer.  It seems that everyone in Tina's family did.  Sadly, Tina is now part of the eldest generation in her family.  Cancer claimed most and it's taken several swings at her too.  Tina, however, is determined to see her sons live long lives.  She's a WARRIOR fighting cancer.

I signed Tina up to participate in this series before many of the other cancer portraits.  Yet, I didn't stitch it right away.  I think there was a bit of serendipity involved.  The piece morphed into something different than I originally intended.  It "speaks" to EVERYONE.... directly!  It speaks to me as well.

There are many lucky people like me who are otherwise not directly involved with cancer decisions.  They will be among the exhibition viewers who can look at the decision to have a mastectomy over chemo or vice versa and think, "What would I do?"  This is thought provoking, powerful, and yet is a hypothetical question.... one they might never (hopefully) have to face in reality.  Tina's portrait lists all sorts of issues and poses many of the same questions.  Yet, it goes a step further by focusing on a very simple decision.  This is a decision each person could make:  Should I get a regular check up?

Tina's fight against cancer means she makes this simple decision frequently.  In 2009 we both turned fifty.  Tina went for a colonoscopy.  A pre-cancerous polyp was found and removed.  I've had mine too (nothing unusual!).... and just scheduled a regular check up with my gynecologist for this year!  There's no Internet link for this portrait...because the best "link" is likely in your address book or Rolodex.... it’s your doctor's telephone number.  I know this series isn't supposed to be about value judgment...I'm considering this one "common sense"!

No comments: