Shirts Tell My Story
It Weakened My Body
I had never been sick before so when my doctor told me I would have to take 4 treatments of chemotherapy I was scared out of my mind. I did not even know how these treatments were given. I envisioned this huge machine they would put me in, causing me great pain and agony.
So I finally got up the nerve and asked the doctor how chemo was administered. He looked at me surprised and said, “We give the drugs through an IV. Chemo is a combination of drugs we have found to work well with your type of cancer. The drugs have to go in slow so it takes several hours for a treatment.”
“You mean it is just a needle! I just sit there with an IV? Oh, I can handle that”, and I laughed with relief. Not knowing was far worse than finding out what the actual treatment was. It Weakened My Body but strengthened my spirit.
Entering the chemo lab for my last treatment I was wearing a t-shirt that had a smiley face on the front. Someone started picking on me about my corny shirt and this was my comment.
This is my Chemo taking, Pill popping, Cancer whipping, Never quitting t-shirt. Hey, you should make that into a t-shirt, they said.
So I did.
I was speaking at a business luncheon about t-shirts and mentioned my cancer shirts project. Everyone was real interested in hearing more so I shared a couple of the stories with them.
A question was asked, What things were factors in my life to help me deal with this illness. I started talking about friends and family, believing in doctors treatment, trusting in faith and continuing to live as normally and full as possible.
To me these were the things that helped me become a SURVIVOR.
Real Men Wear Pink
The other folks that play a major part in our lives is our spouses. Mine happens to be male and he has been my biggest supporter and greatest source of strength. He would not let me feel sorry for myself, but he took care of me when I needed that.
We had only been married 3 years when I found the lump. How would he take being married to a woman with scars and less of a body? Like the man he is, he only wanted my health and nothing more. He constantly reminded me that the real woman is inside. The person he married is inside. The biggest problem I have had with him is he was always bringing me gifts in his effort to make me feel better. After a while I had to quit mentioning things I liked so we would not go broke. When my hair fell out, he shaved his head. (He looked funny, I had a better looking bald head than he did)
His biggest contribution was he encouraged me to continue to do all the things and activities I normally do. Sports such as golf and bowling and crafts that I enjoy as well as working. This made the disease seem smaller in my life.
This shirt is dedicated to Stan, for without him this journey would have been very much tougher. Real men wear pink.
This shirt is a creation from my husband. He is the engineer type so when the doctor was describing the chemo treatments to me he wanted to know what chemicals were in the drugs. My doctor was very willing to share this info and furnished him with the data sheets on the drugs.
He brought the pages home and started reading about it. He concluded that some of the ingredients were the same things found in drain opener and rat poison. It began a joke with us. He drew a skull and crossbones on one of my pill bottles. This design incorporates that he thought the cancer sucked and his skull and crossbones. He loved it and still wears this shirt often.
Fight Like a Man
I never realized how many men deal with breast cancer until I met one. I was at a trade show and while at a booth the topic came up about survivors. I said “yes, I am a survivor of breast cancer.” This gentleman spoke up and said he was a survivor also. I immediately assumed is was for a different kind of cancer so I asked him what type he had survived. His answer surprised me when he said breast cancer.
He found the lump just like I did and had to go through the same treatments.
I guess we all assume that breast cancer is a ladies disease, but it is not. I designed this shirt for all of our guys fighting the battle, just like us.
You can do it!!!
Fight Like a Man
Sometimes you can get so overwhelmed with all the doctor appointments and changes being sick has done to your life. When I was close to completion of my treatments I had a couple of days that I was at wits end. Trying to work and keep up a strong front while feeling tired and yucky had taken its toll on my mood.
The phone rang and instead of it being something for me to handle, it was a friend inviting me to have lunch with her. Just what I needed!
Near the end of lunch I told her how much she had helped me with her company. I said “You know, You are a real lifesaver.” She then asked if I meant like the candy. Yes, exactly like the candy, something amazingly sweet just when you need it.
Let your friends be your lifesavers.
Fight Like a Girl
This is my version of a saying that has been popular for several years. The original design is on one line and stretches all the way across the chest. Since I have had a mastectomy I am a little self conscious about drawing attention to that area. My design is more square and really states the word fight.
Ladies, do you ever get tired of things weak or small being referred to as girl or chick? It takes a strong person to deal with cancer and the treatments. Be proud we can…
Fight Like a Girl
Friends, the answer to cancer
The idea for this design was originated by a friend of mine who is also an artist. I had told her how much having such good friends had helped me deal with it all.
I was really surprised at how involved my friends wanted to be with my treatment. Different friends volunteered to drive me to doctor’s appointments. Your friends want to help. It might be driving you to an appointment or raising money in a cancer event, they want to feel like they can be part of your recovery. Let them do it. It is as much for them as it is for you. People tend to feel rather helpless when someone they care about is sick. Helping you will help them feel like they can be a part of your recovery.
Friends, the answer to cancer.
No Such Thing
This design is dedicated to those of us who have survived cancer, those who are currently going through treatment, and to those who fought valiantly until the very end. No one deserves to be sick. It just happens. I try to apply this thought to most things in my life. Business can be super tough at times, but I always beleive in time things will improve. Relationships with friends and family can become strained or even worse but there is always a chance of it working out.
I have lost several friends to cancer since my diagnosis. I can not say why I survived and they didn’t. I can say they had a chance until the very end. The survival rate is improving each day as medical procedures advance and medications improve. Just keep this thought in mind when things are tough,
There is no such thing as no chance
We were working on fine tuning some of these designs in the art dept at my business. I don’t remember what word we were trying to spell but no one was sure. So I dug out the reliable old dictionary. Everyone got to picking and joking about our high intelligence level and that we were such poor spellers. “ Hey we are just artists here, not with big degrees or anything.” Being the smart mouth I can be, I answered, “ You may not have that big degree but I’ll have you know I have a masters from Survivor University.”
Winning isn’t Everything
One of the things that I really enjoy is bowling. After I had recovered sufficiently from the surgery I got right back to it. I bowled in several tournaments while still taking chemo. Even though my energy level was down I found I could still compete. I have bowled with the same group of girls for years and they were just glad to have me there.
We were at our state tournament and were bowling all three events the same day. That means I was bowling 9 games back to back. I got rather fatigued the last 3 games but my team surrounded me and encouraged me to finish. There were some spectators, most just curious about the bowler with no hair.
An older lady approached me and asked why I would bowl when I was sick. I answered “ I’m not that sick that I can’t still enjoy bowling.” She continued. “you know winning isn’t everything.”
My answer to her was “ If you think winning isn’t everything than you have never beat cancer.”
Toadally Cancer Free
I had finished my last chemo treatment 3 weeks earlier and was at the oncologist office for a follow up. The doctor said everything looked great. “Go live a happy life and I will see you back here in 3 months.”
I walked outside and it had rained while I was in the doctor’s office. The air was still filled with a soft drizzle. My truck was parked over by a natural area beneath some tall pine trees. Next to the truck tire sat a little toad frog. I love all kinds of critters, including toads, and I didn’t want him to get ran over. I picked him up to carry him over to the pine straw area. Before I sat him down, I raised him up even to my face and said, “ Guess what little guy, I’m toadally cancer free!” Laughing at my quick wit I sat in my truck and sketched out this design.
Cancer Chemo Cure
Getting ready to take my last chemo treatment. I am looking forward to finishing these chemo treatments and being cured. Not long now until I get hair back. Food will taste good again. I am very grateful for the wonderful care I have received from the medical staff. Never again will I take for granted my health or the gift of life.
Had Cancer….Took Chemo…Have the Cure!!!
You prepare yourself for the absolute worst when you start your chemo treatments. After the first treatment you lose your hair just like they told you would happen. The doctors give you medications so I was not nearly as sick on my stomach as I had expected.
Treatment number two wasn’t too bad the worst being that food was no longer appealing to me. Everything kinda had a metallic taste to it.
Treatment number three, here came the mouth sores. Huge ol things in the back of my throat. No one said anything thing about those. The doctors prescribed something they called Magic Mouthwash. It helped but took it’s time doing it.
This is a self portrait of me between chemo no 3 and no 4.
This Cancer Thing
I only had a couple of days from the time I got the diagnosis until the day of surgery. Since I own a small business I had to make arrangements for someone else to cover for me. Word spread quickly among friends and business associates about my upcoming surgery. I received dozens of phone calls and emails telling me they were setting up prayer chains for me. This made me feel really cared about.
In the hospital the night after surgery I woke up about 4:00 in the morning. The room was so quiet. You could hear rattling and noise coming from somewhere else in the hospital. My husband was asleep in a recliner in the corner.
So softly I could feel the prayers and kind thoughts and concerns people were saying for me. It was like being wrapped in a pure blanket of love. I knew then that I would survive and beat this cancer. I was not in it alone.
This Cancer Thing, Trust Me on This……God
The “F” Word
I was home from the hospital following my mastectomy surgery and was receiving lots of calls from friends and family. I still had the drain tubes in my chest so I was pretty much confined to stay inside. I am very independent, so this was a huge change for me, needing folks to help me out.
This one friend called that I have known a long time. She asked how I was really doing. “This cancer thing is going to make me start using the “F” word I laughed. The phone line went quiet because I do not talk like that. Yes, Family, Faith, and Friends.
I could hear her sigh with relief.