Jo DeMars

My Story:

It’s been just a year since my breast cancer diagnosis.

So many things have changed, yet so much of my life remains the same. Some days breast cancer still seems unreal as if it really didn’t happen to me. Still when I look at reality, my life has changed forever and it will never be quite the same. I’ve learned so much about breast cancer, about my friends and family, and about myself.

But what feelings would I uncover as I worked on painting my chair?

My daughter reminded me that when I received my pathology report stating my tumor was 6mm I said, “Six millimeters, that’s an early catch. I have pearls bigger than that!” I’ve always said that women are like pearls: precious, lustrous, with a beauty that shines from within, gaining value over time from properly and productively dealing with adversity; yet, like pearls if you exert too much pressure, women can be crushed, so they need to be handled with love.

I remembered the hard days and nights during my treatment and the lessons I learned. I found that, in the end, we all have to go inside ourselves to find the strength to deal with the challenge of cancer. In the dead of the night there is no one else. On the radiation table we lie alone. This is perhaps the greatest lesson of a cancer diagnosis: we come to understand the depth of the strength and courage that resides in us and where our true values lie.

I’ve painted my chair red for strength and courage and I added the Chinese symbol for wisdom. I’ve included 28 pearls to represent each of my radiation treatments. I chose a rocking chair to represent comfort and the feminine spirit.