15th July 2013, not my birthday or an anniversary but my “I’m sorry you have Breast Cancer” day. Over the next few months things went past in a blur of surgeries, scans, results, hospital appointments, radiotherapy and then the dreaded chemotherapy.
By Christmas I didn’t recognise the person looking back at me in mirror. I’d lost all my hair ,my eyebrows,I couldn’t feel the ends of my fingers or toes. What energy I did have I had to distribute carefully. If I needed a shower or a hair wash I would need to decide to do that task and nothing else all day.
Cancer is not just a physical condition but a mental one too. It sapped all of my self confidence. I felt very vulnerable and my memory was pretty much non existent. Unable to return to work I lost my very reason for being. I desperately needed to reconnect with life.
Summer 2014 came and sitting in my Summer house I thought how wonderful it would be to paint the flowers in the garden. I was never able to draw anything anyone could recognise so I was setting the bar quiet high.
I found a couple of painting classes and these helped me realise that it was all about creativity and putting yourself on the page. No high expectations at all . Do what you like. I started to find a connection even if I would never make the Tate gallery .
Finding I was connecting with a different side of myself I started making patchwork quilts. Admittedly just one quilt took me a whole year due to my finger damage but when I finished it the satisfaction was totally compelling. My confidence was actually growing.
The perfect thing about crafting was it became an expression of myself. I could let loose on a canvas with colours and different brush strokes or make Love Birds from Sea glass and branches from my Silver Birch Tree. I could pick up a frame or some stones or a paint brush whenever I felt well enough and if I got tired keep it for the next day. The biggest accomplishment of all is to make crafts that bring others joy. I sell a few pieces on Etsy and folksy. Not many as I am still having treatment every three weeks and have done for the last five years so my body is not what it was. But when I sign and wrap up a little frame of love and post it to someone who has chosen my art it’s a feeling like no other.
Crafting brings out your personality, a piece of yourself, a touch of love. Whether it be painting, knitting, collage, jewellery, cards, crochet or any type of handmade item you can always say “I did that”.
Pauline would like to say a big thank you to Ellie’s Friends which is dedicated to improving the lives of adults (16+) living with cancer, all around the UK. They provide frequent freebies from caring businesses and individuals, to offset some of the financial and psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis.
Find Pauline and White Heart Crafts here www.etsy.com/uk/shop/WhiteHeartCrafts