Radiation Art Mask

Below is a photo of a radiation mask that I turned into an art piece in honour of my mum and the story that goes with it.

Title:  Breathe

Breathe – take the time to enjoy the little things and breathe it all in.

We thought my mum had pneumonia.  We took her in to see her primary doctor on a Tuesday, by Friday we were told cancer and by Monday we were told Ovarian Cancer.  The first week was a whirlwind of doctors, x-rays, multiple drainings of fluid in her chest and abdomen.  We saw the first oncologist on Tuesday (one week after seeing her primary doctor), he sent us to a gynecological oncologist two days later.  That was the day, we were told stage IV Ovarian Cancer.  Words no one wants to hear.  

Within two weeks, she started chemo.  One of the lucky ones, a lot of women don’t get diagnosed right away or are pushed away for awhile before starting treatment.  Ovarian cancer, also known as “The Silent Killer”, is one of the most dangerous cancers for women.  We knew we had a long road ahead of us and our goal was to stay as positive as possible and live in the moment.  

There is a very small chance that once you go through treatment the first time and get rid of the cancer, it does not come back.  My mum was not one of the lucky ones.  Her cancer kept coming back and more frequently each time.  She was in treatment non-stop for four years, had multiple surgeries, multiple procedures, a few blood transfusions, lots of infusions and quite a few hospital stays.  We lived at oncology for four years.

We were joined at the hip.  Everyone who knew us, knew that we were a team and were always together.  We were basically two people going through the journey of cancer together as one.  

Through 4 years of nonstop treatment, she continued to smile, went on many adventures and lived to the fullest.  Cancer might have slowed her down, but it never stopped her from bringing a smile to someone’s face, seeing the good in situations and enjoying every moment.

Our motto through the journey:  “We are not thankful for the cancer, but we are thankful for the journey it has taken us on and the people we have met along the way”

My mum never had radiation, so even though I was a part of this project as the photographer, I never thought about dedicating a mask to her.  After she passed, I thought it would be a good tribute to her and maybe a little healing for me to create a mask in her honour.  

Her favourite place was the ocean, so I painted the mask in an ocean theme with the sand and waves at the bottom and deeper blue at the top.  After she lost all of her hair, it made her feel good to wear earrings whenever we left the house.  So I decided to add some ears to the mask so that I could put one of her pairs of earrings on the mask.  Her favourite flowers are lilacs and sunflowers and she loved to crochet.  So my sister crocheted the necklace for the lilacs and she crocheted the sunflower headband for me.  The owls on the shoulder represent my mum and I as one, she also collected owls.  If you look around the back of the owls, you will see that one has a wing around the other.

The pieces hanging off of the bottom:  The butterflies represent the constant changing and evolving in her life.  One red maple leaf to represent Canada (where she is from) and one blue maple leaf to represent Toronto (her favourite hockey team).  The hummingbirds show that she now flies with the hummingbirds.

One Comment

  1. This is such a lovely tribute to her vibrant life and your partnership through every step of the journey together. I love that it also reflects your love of the ocean and color, and is a direct result of your love for her + your unstoppable creativity. Thank you for sharing the stories behind the art!

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