Somewhere amidst the enormous number of thoughts and images that crowded my mind in the hours following my first cancer diagnosis was the childhood memory of rowing a boat.
I was nine or ten and tall for my age, not particularly athletic. But how I loved to row that boat! My arms felt strong as I pulled against the water, and I was adept at maneuvering the oars to control my speed and direction. It was the perfect symbol for making my way through this new passage.
Treatment included surgery plus six months of chemotherapy and radiation, and the creative mind did not cease to function while the physical body was under duress. There were several days after each round of chemo when in spite of fatigue and other side effects, my head would spin day and night with ideas for artwork and ways to present them. Thoughts evolved and overlapped and gave birth to one another, and the work flowed. In retrospect, what I remember most about this time was making the art.
Carol Chase Bjerke
Life Boat, the book, by Carol Chase Bjerke
Published by Borderland Books, 2020
Paperback: 32 pages, with 18 full-color illustrations
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