When I was young nobody ever said the word ‘cancer’ in a normal tone of voice. It would always be said in a whisper. For example, “Did you hear, Joanie has… cancer…?” with the last word barely said, or just mouthed, without sound.
The other day, I encountered the modern-day equivalent of minimization of the ‘C’ word. I was looking for the cancer center with a newly diagnosed patient. We drove around the hospital complex several times before we asked a passerby where the center was. He pointed out the building. We had driven past it several times. There was no signage identifying it as the cancer center for which we had been searching. After parking, we walked up to the entrance and there, in small print on the identifying placard, was the ‘C’ word, naming the center.
Cancer is indeed, a frightening concept. One’s own cells gone mad, cells that reproduce without end, serving no other purpose than impeding the function of the other, sane cells, eventually causing death.
Knowing about cancer as a bystander, when a loved one develops it, is an exercise in compartmentalization. One finds that there are many different kinds of cancers; some are more easily defeated than others; there are different treatments and some new ones that only require a pill to cause remission. One becomes full of hope that the odds will be favorable.
Today’s watercolor is my rendition of cancer. The doc told me that lungs have tiny structures like bubble-wrap bubbles. When one smokes, these structures pop.
I washed the paper with a blue tint and impressed on it a small sheet of bubble wrap. I popped the bubbles. For a short time, the pattern persisted on the paper until it faded away. I used droplets of paint that I blew around with compressed air and abraded the paper to represent the destructive properties of the rogue cells.
The watercolor below is not pretty, but neither is cancer.