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Whip Cancer Gift Items from my own designs & a selection of my Chemo Journal Drawings

Updated on February 2, 2013

My Cancer Chemo Journal Drawings

During chemotherapy and radiation (at the same time) I kept journals. Soon the designs became more important to me than the words.

I drew simplified abstract imagery, using pens, markers, watercolor crayons and other water media.

For the CafePress/WhipCancer shop items I selected some images from the larger drawings, each of them meaningful parts of my cancer recovery process.

I placed the smaller images on CafePress items, extracted from the text. I am developing the text to accompany each design, for gifts to augment the healing process and to celebrate strong cancer survivors experiences.

The Chemo Journal Drawing here is from the middle of the series. I still remember beginning this with permanent black ink in the hospital waiting room. The central orb represents all things nourishing, like the yolk of an egg.

inside the sphere is a curve of healthy flowering cells, while their robust condition has thrust all the cancer cels to the outside. Gradually they die of malnutrition and eventually drop off into the lymph stream, to be carried out of the body. The stamps on this drawing all speak to growth.

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Journaling During Chemo, My Job & My Joy

Like many of them, this drawing focused on the new growth, both physically in the form of hair and healing, and emotionally and psychologically. Split open seeds represent that growth, graphically, as they send up the first leaves. Red blood droplets nourish the growth through education, social contacts, improved diet, exercise regimen, prayer, and lots of artwork.

Water plays a prominent part in the course of my treatment journals, both rain water and drinking water, drugs delivered through IV in a liquid base, and water I poured on my garden plants, houseplants and even shower water, with its calming flow. If depression threatened, I symbolically washed it away, like in the rain at the top of this drawing, and the water balloons at the top right.

I developed an iconography in tiny stamp images, each based on an individual event. The tiny stamp at mid-left evokes the feeling of itsy sharp glass shards, like what caused my sharp joint pains and jitteriness, cutting the lines that held onto water droplets. At top right water balloons hang onto the date mark for the page. At bottom center, over the seed roots is a reminder that women often become encumbered with a condition called lymphedema, after having lymph nodes removed.

I attended a gathering for breast cancer patients and met a woman who had lymphedema. She pointed out a puff of fluid above her collarbone, and explained that shows some of the lymphedema. I asked my doctor about puffs above my collarbone and she said they were fat!

Excerpt from this page: "I have to ask myself if tears always comes from self pity. [dictionary defifition: PITIFUL: 1) compassionate, 2) deserving or arousing pity, or commiseration; b) exciting pitying contempt (as by meanness or inadequacy]. Pity from those who love you is compassion and commiseration."

Since working at an outside job was impossible during this period I felt like using my art this way was my real job. Each day that I was able I felt encouraged and eager to resume work on the journal drawings. I worked slowly and with permanent drawing pens on acid free papers.

Embossed Leather Butterfly Journal - write and draw under this beautiful turquoise cover

Every time you pick up this gorgeous leather book, just the feel of it alone will set a healing mood for entries. I chose the medium for my journals, and if I had been looking for a volume in which to write, this would have been my choice.

It is a perfect gift for a breast cancer patient.

Eccolo Essential Collection 5 x 7 Inches Lined Journal, Butterfly
Eccolo Essential Collection 5 x 7 Inches Lined Journal, Butterfly

Perfect as a gratitude journal or personal diary, this embossed butterfly journal features classic styling and timeless charm. The leather cover features an embossed butterfly while the acid-free paper features writing lines.

The soft cover and small size makes it easy to add to your purse or bag for journaling-on-the-go. Makes a wonderful personal gift. Imported. 7Lx5W".


Drawing on the Day of Third Chemo Round

analogy to miners and their ore cars

By the time of the third chemo round I was all over me with jitters. I took Prednisone the night before chemo. It kept me up all night and all the next day. My normally ever so slight right arm tremor was an all out jackhammer on days like these - always in motion unless i leashed it with the left hand.

In part, the text reads: "Because of the Qur'an I became Muslim and have found the peace to get me through the cancer. I will beat the disease. I am working overtime with the miners as they push the ore cars through my veins and my whole duct system to make the lymph work for me like the tremendous water cannons.

Those were the "Giants" that brought down whole hillsides in their insatiable appetites for gold. At the Lost Chicken Hill Gold Mine, in Chicken, Alaska. In the same way when the tremendous pains shoot/cut through my body, I can keep on envisioning the little miners with their razor sharp picks hacking away at any resemblance of cancer.

"Throwing it into the ore cars and pushing the cars down the railways of my systems, stopping to load up the next invasive body and run those ore cars until they are full, then the miners dump the ore into the sluice boxes of my very effective waste filtration and elimination system, which rids my body of all cancer micro/macroorganisms. Of course this is a lot of work and I do get tired. I see that as proof that my cancer elimination system is working full bore...."

Keep Your Own Precious Journal - writing every day of chemo helps in so many ways

Genuine Leather Heart Lock Diary, Working Key and Lock, Pink, 8"
Genuine Leather Heart Lock Diary, Working Key and Lock, Pink, 8"

Treasure your thoughts in this elegant heart-lock diary. With 224 lined cream-white, acid-free archival pages and a fully functional lock with key you can safely keep all your secrets. This diary also features gold, gilt edges and a double-faced cream satin ribbon marker.


Pricklies Are All I Can Feel All Over My Body

now I know I have Peripheral Neuropathy, from chemo Taxol

My attitude is fluid as it flows from pure gratitude at the chance to recover, to grievance at the painful prickles inside my everywhere and all over my head.

This drawing reflects the topsy-turvy world of chemotherapy. Every part of my skin, even the inside layers feels as if there are pins extending clear through, poking in and out.

I love drawing. It feels like some of the pains migrate out my fingers onto the paper. I enjoy the contrast of tight pen marks and loose watercolor, and intense markers.

I didn't cry much during treatment but chemo dries out all the tissues, including the eyes. It is common to insert Punctum Plugs into the tear ducts to stop them up, so some tears remain to coat the eyeballs. Three days ago, when each of mine was inserted it brought with it a ripping pain and when I cried out the doctor wanted to know why, and pooh-poohed my claim that it really hurt. The following day I awoke to find fluid-filled bags about 1" under my eyes and one inch in from the cheekbone. So I wrote about it and drew a new stamp.

An excerpt from this drawing, in the words of someone significant, but mostly absent to me, reads:

"True Love

- I will love you even if disease makes you ugly

- That love will bring me to comfort you unless it makes me vomit to see you

- Even if I cannot come I will telephone or write letters or cards

- I will tell you what I need to get through this together"

He didn't do any of the above, and I was too encumbered with chemo drugs and drugs given to counter chemo, to realize he wouldn't. I knew that "I would" had the situation been reversed, of that I was certain. So this drawing is about much more than a personal relationship or than chemo.

When I look at it now, from the perspective of twelve years having passed, I can feel the pricklies I felt back then, because now I live with the repercussions of Nerve Damage from Taxol, and now I know what the pains are, since they are no longer a "discomfort."

144 Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Bracelets
144 Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Bracelets

Use these pink awareness bracelets for fundraising. They read, Hope, Strength, Faith, Survivor. Wholesale case lot of 144 bracelets

Pink Ribbon Fight Like a Girl Breast Cancer Car Decal / Sticker
Pink Ribbon Fight Like a Girl Breast Cancer Car Decal / Sticker

Let your message show on your car. "Fight Like a Girl" in pink, with breast cancer pink ribbon. 8.2" X 3". Pink vinyl, for easy application


Taxol Sticking Tacks in My Emotional Center

Breast Cancer did a number on my body and also on my finances. I wasn't prepared to be unable to work. I hadn't planned on having no income. I began selling the furniture - literally.

This drawing refers to the roses the lady refinisher brought to me when she came to buy my beautiful and unusual antique dresser that had been in my family for most of my five decades. I loved it more than any piece of my furniture, but it was the most likely to sell, so I advertised it.

I was heartbroken as I accepted the roses, which were, of course, beautiful. But I didn't feel like drawing beautiful. I felt like bawling over the loss of that wonderful broad and deep, sculptured base with a small chest on curved legs on top, next to a heavy beveled mirror, all with hand carved trim, that I thought I would use for the rest of my life. The money I received didn't even pay one month's rent.

The little stamps on the drawing reference a friend's cancer fear, the sharp bumpy lump from the huge hematoma from my original surgery, sharp lightening like pains, a mighty tack, and pink Pickflower (the name I gave the mental image of a miner's pick, but one growing as a flower).

Mellow Yellow Leather WhipCancer Classic - a journal you will love to touch and keep

American-Made Classic Leather Writing Journal with Wood Bookmark, Refillable 5x8, 224 lined pages (Taupe Brown with Umbrella Icon)
American-Made Classic Leather Writing Journal with Wood Bookmark, Refillable 5x8, 224 lined pages (Taupe Brown with Umbrella Icon)

Record your daily events, your musings, your accomplishments, your ideas... No matter the subject, collect and cherish your writings in a timeless tradition. This classic writing journal includes 192 pages of blank white 8x6 acid-free pages bound by hand with genuine top-quality leather.

An attached wrap-around leather strap secures the journal when not in use. Best of all, every portion of the journal is handcrafted in the USA.


Never Did I Guess It's Peripheral Neuropathy

Chemo cut my peripheral nervous system

I now know this means those poking pains I drew about were the same as the Peripheral Neuropathy that has building over the years. I've written up my research about this condition.

Please, if you know someone who is on chemo, or had chemo, and complains of pins & needles, numbness in feet or hands, burning pains in the extremities - have them read this.

The photograph is a detail from my art piece, and if you imagine what it would feel like to step on this artwork, and to walk on such a carpet, to have it cover your keyboard and your bed, then you have an inkling of an idea of what this condition leads to when a sufferer tries to stand, sit, type, walk, touch.

Peripheral Neuropathy is connected with the ocular migraines I get, and when I ran down on my prescription both conditions surfaced with a vengeance a dozen days ago, claiming my time and my attention.

Radiation Boost is More Like Burning Bomb

This drawing concerns my struggle to mentally coat my radiation burned skin with mental images of refreshing coolness, and sinking in the attempt a few times. After I had sold the special antique dresser for a pittance towards my rent I even sold such items as CDs and tapes. It's laughable, looking back upon those days, but I was serious about it at the time.

A top stamp depicts an apple with leaves on a Radiation Table surrounded by the blue Radiation Collar, a symbol of life and health about to be scorched. The stamp image on the left is all about the pommeling of the Radiation Boost, that final big dose, to close out Radiation Treatment. The center stamp image shows a garment anchored down by a chain to one sleeve connected to a lead weight, a void of energy above the garment and further energy pressing down. The stamp at the right has a tender pink sphere supine on a velvet cushion, echoing fragile skin only lying down.

Keep a Tree of Life Treatment Journal - record it all here, it's for you

I love the Tree of Life image, however it's drawn, carved, or painted. It has a wonderful feeling of eternity that ties one's self into the greater picture of life.

Eccolo World Traveler Essential Collection Journal, 5 x 7", Green - Tree of Life (D303C)
Eccolo World Traveler Essential Collection Journal, 5 x 7", Green - Tree of Life (D303C)

Perfect as a gratitude journal or personal diary, this embossed Tree of Life journal features classic styling and timeless charm.

The leather cover features an embossed tree of life while the acid-free paper features writing lines. The soft cover and small size makes it easy to add to your purse or bag for journaling-on-the-go. Makes a wonderful personal gift. Imported. 7Lx5W".


Fill a Stunning Tote for Chemo Distraction - this is a swell tote for your personal chemo journal

Whether in a Sumptuous Designer Tote Bag or a 6-pack of Colorful Reusable Folding Shopping Totes, a woman can keep her necessities handy in style

My Helpful Breast Cancer Info & Gift Pages

for stylish cancer covers, toppers, & resources - there I am the next year, down by the beach, loving the shore

BreastCancerMen Yes, men get breast cancer too.

Breast Cancer Warriors Encyclopedic, and very readable, breast cancer resource.

Charity Projects Make and donate, request, or buy just the right hats for yourself or other cancer patients.

Chemo Wraps Top-notch online resource for how-to-tie, how-to-wrap, and how to buy the right kind of scarf, during breast cancer treatment. Lists, videos, my personal stories, books, everything you want for yourself or for others.

Breast Cancer Books All types of books for managing breast cancer treatment with information and humor.

Whip Cancer Gift shopping and journal reading, with designs from my Chemo Journal drawings.

Breast Cancer Warriors Multiple lensmaster breast cancer lenses.

Wicking Dry Night Sweats are common after medical menopause caused by breast cancer treatment decisions. Find many different sleepwear options.

Peripheral Neuropathy is like barbed wire in legs, feet & hands. My latest research into this dreadful condition that has hampered my life recently and as far back as the chemo that caused it. Research reports and treatment options.

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      3 years ago

      brit, i just stumbled upon your blog from pieesrtnt (oven fried green beans seems so silly after all i've just read ). I just want you to know that I'll be thinking about you as you travel this cancer journey .I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 13 weeks into my pregnancy with my third child. after surgery, the (amazingly intelligent) docs at Duke and UNC determined treatment was necessary and I had chemo while pregnant. they promised me by baby would be completely safe, which he was. I had surgery again when he was six weeks old .so i guess my point is, i can imagine, somewhat, what you are going through and I know how tough it's going to be .but i also know how strong we mom's can be .and i know that you are going to get to the other side of this with flying colors. Your blog is inspiring, and I can tell that you are too. Much love to you and your family. Take good care, and I'm going to be following you to see how great you are doing.your newest fan, kellyps those aforementioned oven fried green beans look amazing. i can't wait to make them hopefully when i do, it will send you some good vibes to keep feeling great and getting healthy.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very powerful article. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Last July, I was with a friend who was having her chemo and it was quite an experience to meet others who were going through their own therapy. This is enlightening for me.


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