Julie

My painting represents change. It was the hottest day of the year when I was told I had breast cancer. I remember very clearly the blue sky on that day. If I close my eyes I can still see that sky. My painting started with a blue sky. I knew from the moment I heard the cancer diagnosis that my life had changed. Cancer feels to me all about stages and changes. Physical change, emotional change, social change.

When I was ill I watched from my bedroom window the seasons change before me. I painted the hill, tree and flowers I can see from my window. Autumn, orange and purple. Winter, greys and brown. I had been waiting for Spring because I knew by then my chemotherapy treatment would be over. Throughout my illness the seasonal change in colours on the hill reflected the personal changes within me.

When I first saw the snowdrops I felt a great sense of joy and new beginnings. I could now begin the next stage of my journey. The fence in my painting symbolises the barrier between the inside and outside that whilst ill I became very aware of. Learning that, although I couldn't walk to the top of the hill beyond the tree I could transport myself there in my mind. I was in bed but my soul was outside on my hill.

Picture 2 (Wednesday)

I painted hearts because it was Valentine's Day and my head was filled with hearts. Three hearts close together, me, my partner and my daughter. The hearts rested on scaffolding held by all the friends who have supported us during my illness. I then painted the pictures that came into my mind when I thought about what was in my heart. My favourite moor in Yorkshire. Nature, I love being in open spaces and by the sea. The family pets. A boat, because I like journeys, even if sometimes I don't know where they are leading. Fresh food, because since having cancer, I've become very aware about what I put in my body, eating organic gives me a feeling of well-being.

The yellow in my painting represents the happiness I feel in being alive. The smaller two hearts are more complicated. My parents are in one heart. They are both dead now, but I still get strength from them and they will always be in my heart. In the other heart is my birth mother. I have never met her because I was adopted as a baby. I do know, though correspondence that she has had breast cancer. It is very strange to know that I could have inherited my breast cancer from someone who I have never met.

Sometimes it feels very confusing that I carry the genes of the woman who rejected me as a baby. Something perhaps that only other adopted people would really understand. I was surprised that when I thought about what was in my heart she was here, so I put her in my painting. I do feel very happy with my heart, it feels much stronger since I've had cancer. It feels good to look into my heart, it's a nice place to be.