Vicki

The orange is the cancer, (top left) and the halo is the blue protection against it spreading, containing it. I drew tears in the two tear shapes, so there is a bit of sadness, or worry. When I was painting I never set out with any definite idea. I just liked the colours. Blue was my favourite colour when I was having chemotherapy. I chose it as my sort of protection, that I wore. I consciously thought; blue is the colour that is going to heal me. In this picture (top right) the figure is me and the red thing is the cancer, or the guilt about having got cancer. Somehow I felt it was my fault, so this picture just seems to express the guilt, the responsibility of having cancer. I want to put it behind me really, but there is always this lurking feeling. I want to put it behind me and say; I've had it, it's over and it's gone. I don't want to worry that it may suddenly come back. All the time, things in the press or people saying, 'how are you' hit you. Your body is always sort of creaking and groaning, and with every ache comes, is that it?

I have always liked drawing trees, branches spreading, and I feel this is a positive picture: my soul picture. I was feeling good when I was doing it and there are positive colours and shapes. I feel it should be a distillation of my experience, although you only understand things with distance in hindsight. At the time you just live them, go through them and you don't think at all. I didn't worry very much after I was diagnosed. I had surgery; I had chemotherapy, and during all that time I suppose I was just busy dealing with those things. But once the chemotherapy was over I suddenly thought, where do I stand? Do I still have cancer? Have I had it? Is it going to come back? I didn't hear about the breast cancer support group until the summer, which is a pity because I think I would benefited from it when I was having chemotherapy. I had a few friends who were terrific, but nobody who had been through the same sort of thing. It would have been great to have had that sort of support.

Is it better to turn my back on it all, and imagine everything is over, or should I keep going back into the disease and the worries, sharing it with others, perpetuate those concerns and those feelings. I still feel I don't understand why I got breast cancer although there is quite a lot of cancer in my family. The thing is how little I actually felt at the time; I was numb, really, until all the treatment was over. I didn't cry very much, I was like a sort of robot. Maybe it will make sense; maybe it's leading to a change in my life; the end of my life - I just don't know. Lots of people felt angry, but I never did; that is my nature. One thing I have found out is who your true friends are, who really cares. Carry on with life and live it. Don't give up. Just carry on as usual. Now as time passes, and I am distant from it, I can understand more.