Phyllis Holder


My Story:

My name is Phyllis K. Holder and I am a breast cancer victor. I was full of faith and girded for battle throughout my cancer journey. Being blessed with the ability to hold on tight to life during two years of cancer related treatments, the blues really caught me off guard this summer. Really, everything was gray. I had noticeably lost my sunny disposition.

Today, I am again full of gratitude and able to look to every day as a bright day fresh with hope, love and new beginnings. Being a rare chair artist helped me to regain my center. Even though today marks the eve of the day two years ago that I found out that I had stage three breast cancer, I am at peace. Faith restored, I am trusting God that my mammogram tomorrow will show no evidence of disease. Two years ago I went in knowing something was wrong. My annual exams and mammograms had been clean up to that point. I believe God prompted me to act with due haste and ask for a diagnostic mammogram rather than a screening mammogram to cut to the chase and start treatment as soon as possible.

When discussing my case, my oncologist always started his sentences out with ” Unfortunately, …. .” During the months we spent together, he stopped annoying me with that dreadful qualifier. He discovered that the only unfortunate thing was that he didn’t have a better vocabulary. He openly looked forward to praying with me and my dedicated (made every appointment) friend. Oh, the power of touching and agreeing, speaking life over death and acknowledging grace, mercy and talented minds and hands. My friends, coworkers, and family were angelic in caring for me and my daughter through a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Complications that cause pain and limit the use of my dominant arm have tested my endurance and fortitude. Occupational and physical therapy certainly enhanced the quality of my life.

So, the long and short of my story is that I AM STILL HERE. The blues didn’t get the best of me either! Volunteering to be a survivor artist was a way of challenging myself to use my arm and clear my mind. It was wonderfully cathartic and affirming. To be free to just be and create provided a needed way to hold on, just when I felt like I was losing my grip. This experience was truly a gift.

My chair, my sunburst chair, reminded me to enjoy all the colors of living, to be grateful for all the textures, and to not let negativity creep into my consciousness. Blue is an awesome color too. Over the summer, each brush stroke added to rebuilding an appreciation for and ability to bask in the glory of living. My chair became a celebration, a victory that speaks volumes about the goodness of God.