Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Relapse", 2013. Watercolor

 This painting was done after the worst day of my life.  On January 14th, after only one month off of treatment and celebration of my new "Remission".  After more than a year of chemo/hell, surgeries, and radiation.  After the loss of my life as I knew it and just as I was starting to have hopes and plans of a new one,  I found out my cancer returned and had spread to my lungs.  I have 3 hospital bracelets on because upon getting this news I had to be admitted to a Psych Ward.  Apparently,  saying: "What should I do now?  Jump off the roof?'' is taken very seriously even when your dying.  Of course you are going to have a suicidal thought or two after having your heart and hopes crushed into a million pieces.  Sitting in between my two sobbing parents with my Doctor basically in tears holding my hand.  I don't think anyone that has gone through this hell has the right to judge or know how they would handle this news in that MOMENT after what I had been through.  It pisses me off because trying to survive is a lot harder than anyone without cancer could ever understand.  I wouldn't be putting myself through this hell if I was going to off myself.  I wouldn't do it to my parents.  I guess I never really thought cancer could kill me, like it does to so many, until that moment.

  Life has been completely different since my relapse.  For five months I have thought about my death a lot.  The stress and depression of relapsing put me down to 99 lbs.   I don't want to die but I see it all the time now.  What makes me any different?  Nothing.  Cancer doesn't care.  Why do some cancers leave you alone while others return with a vengeance?  It certainly has nothing to do with Karma, or Religion, or age, or how good of a person you are.  I see it with my own eyes everyday at the hospital.  Yesterday at Sloan they had dresses and suits for all the kids in Peds for a hospital Prom.  Many of them will never get a chance to go to their real one.  It makes me feel fortunate that even though there is so much I want to do, I need to remember I have been lucky to have gotten to do a lot in my life.  Relatively.

  I dream of a day where I have long hair, can dance, not feel sick and exhausted all the time.  I said goodbye to any dreams of having kids,  getting married, or seeing 40 after my relapse.  I do think Ewing's Sarcoma will get me in the end.  I'm just hoping that If I keep staying alive, new drugs will keep coming up to extend my life as long as possible.  I DON'T WANT TO DIE.  Luckily, the chemo regimen I'm on now is shrinking my tumors.  The last type of chemo I tried after my relapse did not work.  I am elated this one is, but not stupid. I am only on my 3rd cycle out of 12.   Each cycle everyday for 2 weeks for ANOTHER WHOLE YEAR.  I don't know what will happen but I will live for the small moments of happiness and friendship and family and beauty as I know it.  It's not ideal but it's all I got.  I am more hopeful,  for the first time since my relapse.  I think, maybe I will get a chance to visit India again.  Maybe I will date again.  I don't know if it's going to bite me in the ass to have these hopes but I can't help it.  For now,  I am excited about my artwork and the exhibitions I will be a part of that will be coming up that are a very, very big deal to me.  I'm getting the chance to tell my story the only way I know how and to reach others who might feel very alone, like I have.  I know my work might seem like a bummer to a lot of people, but I'm showing cancer for what it is.  I do not want to glamorize it.  At the same time I want the viewer to end up feeling inspired and to have learned something.  I'll be updating more about these shows soon.  I'll be going into my 3rd year battling this bastard of a cancer.  I can't believe it.  That is a long ass time living like this.  Is it living?.....not sure.  There should probably be some other word for what is I'm doing, but I'm still here.


  1. I've been reading your blog lately and its been really helping me have a better perspective on everything. Keep on writing- I'm reading and learning and growing more from it. And I'm thinking about you! I know I've said it but I mean it- we need to hang out more.

    1. Thanks Laura! I live right on the McGlorick park so even if I can't get around that well, I'm all about chilling seriously! I love being around your Laura Kim vibes, It's just what the doctor ordered!! xoxo

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  3. Melissa, I have loved your artwork that your mother has posted for years. I am sorry that you are faced with being a warrior for your life. Your portrait grabbed me and I clicked your blog, only to discover your brutally honest words that brought me to tears. Your beauty transcends your strokes and your language. You are filled with hope and passion. Thank you for sharing and helping me to understand a little better the fragility of life and the blessings that often go unnoticed. I hope I can come to see one of your shows. -- Susan

  4. Hi Melissa, I just came upon your Instagram, artwork and blog today via Pamela Love's Instagram feed. I can't even begin to tell you how powerful your story and your artwork has spoke to my heart. It's beautiful, intense, stunning, intimate, reflective...and incredibly moving. You don't know me, and I could never understand what's happening in your heart and in your mind, but I feel your heart close to mine and I feel moved in way I haven't felt in a long time. The raw beauty of your story is beyond words and I hope you know that what you've set out to do with your stunning artwork // showing cancer in a new light while inspiring without glamorizing // is exactly what you're achieving. I live in NYC and am currently out of town for another week, but I'd like to talk with you one the phone or via Skype regarding a possible collaboration. If you are interested, you can shoot me an email at Sending you immense goodness and power to your upcoming show (hope I am back in town in time!). Please keep documenting your journey and sharing your incredible work. With goodness, Amara

    1. Hi Amara,
      Thank you so much for going out of your way to tell me what you think of my really means the world to me. Its nice to have confirmation that what i set out to do is being taken the right way! My email is mcarroll000@gmail. xo

  5. girl, i LOVE your work, and i hate what you're going through, and i so appreciate you putting brush to canvas and words to pain and fear and frustration and all of it. i am sending you infinite wellsprings of love, support and healing magic from new mexico, and really, truly hoping you'll stick around this planet for a good, long while while rocking the world with your art, your courage and your sass. you. are. beautiful. xoxoxo dani

    1. Thanks! So encouraging of you to say! Everyone needs a little bit of sass in my books! xoxox

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