FANTASTIC NEWS FOR THE PROJECT!
The book, Like Any Other Woman is to be published by Cardiff University Press: https://www.cardiffuniversitypress.org/ this autumn!
Written by myself in collaboration with Rebecca Phillips, the first woman to be involved with the project. Like Any Other Woman creatively and movingly documents Becky’s story, along with those of several other women who contributed to the project.
At twenty-four, four months before her wedding, she was diagnosed with vulval cancer, an ‘old ladies disease’. She wrote about her pain, her hopes, her fears, and her writing is too authentic not to be heard on its own terms. We agreed that I would write a book in which I would express through words (both hers and mine) and imagery, her experiences and the resonances with those of other women who have similar conditions.
Like Any Other Woman speaks to the suffering that cancer causes, to the profound human experience of re-negotiating the physical and emotional balance between sickness and health when that balance is tipped by the onset of disease. It is not a book about cancer itself, the etiological world of causes and symptoms. It is not about biomedical interventions that characterise individual treatment. It is about what it feels like when all sense of normality, all expectations of a future, suddenly become submerged in degrees of suffering that impact both on the individual, and on those who care for and about her.
SEPTEMBER 2017 is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness month. I will be posting daily throughout the month in support of the Eve Appeal campaign. CHECK OUT THE ARTIST BLOG PAGE AND SIGN UP FOR UPDATES!
NEW DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT: BREAST CANCER: A CREATIVE INTERVENTION CHECK OUT THE ARTIST’S BLOG PAGE FOR REGULAR UPDATES!
CHECK OUT THE EXHIBITION PAGES FOR PICTURES AND REPORTS ON THE SHOWS!
The Drawing Women’s Cancer project constitutes a productive and collaborative interaction between art and science where sensitive engagement with cancer patients generates a visual interpretation of their lived experience. The artist conducts continuing ‘conversations’ with patients over the period of their treatment for cancer, and with health professionals and carers. Data derived from transcripts of these ‘encounters’ provides the basis for the creative and exploratory drawing process that generates works both for public exhibition and for patient focused resource material. An interactive approach is crucial as it enables all participants to have a ‘personal involvement’ in the production of the artwork.
Drawing Women’s Cancer introduces an artist’s perspective into women’s cancer treatment and builds on pilot work carried out through a collaboration between Dr Jac Saorsa, artist, researcher and educator, and Dr Amanda Tristram, consultant surgeon in Gynaecological Oncology.
The project aims to raise public awareness of the overall impact of the four gynaecological cancers and breast cancer, and provide for the production of a fully documented and illustrated patients’ resource; support material to be used by patients and health professionals before, during and after medical intervention.
In highlighting women’s cancers and reflecting the existential experience of illness through artistic interpretation, Drawing Women’s Cancer exploits the potential to change the way that cancer is ‘seen’ and understood in general, and the project as a whole is intended to have a positive effect on how the public respond to cancer patients, and how women with cancer come to terms with their own situation.
There is already substantial public awareness of cervical cancer since the death of television reality star Jade Goody in 2009, but this project, in engendering a deeper consciousness of the cancer experience as it pertains to physiological and emotional health through a creative interpretation of scientific intervention and human experience, addresses awareness issues related to all four gynaecological cancers, and to breast cancer. It aims to promote increased awareness and understanding of womens’ cancers through an engagement with a public exhibitions of artworks, and associated events, and offer support that focuses on helping and empowering women in their experience of cancer and its impact on their lives.
It is routine practice in breast cancer for women to be shown ‘before and after’ photographs of reconstruction prior to going ahead with surgery, however in gynaecological cancers, these photographs are often too powerfully emotive. It has been established however, through sensitive research with cancer patients, that drawings, being more subjective albeit no less realistic, are more acceptable and understandable than photographs or medical diagrams. For women in the vulnerable situation that a cancer diagnosis creates, a resource that focuses on the overall impact of the illness and is therefore more ‘person-centred’ than medically oriented would provide support and help in coming to terms with the treatment of the disease and its aftermath.
THIS SITE INCLUDES THE ‘Artists Blog’: a ‘sketchbook’ full of words and images, conventional and visual language intermingling to form a ‘voice’ that echoes and conveys other voices that are never usually raised in public.
The sketchbook will grow along with the Drawing Women’s Cancer project. It will build on narratives of my encounters, on my thoughts, my feelings, my successes and my failures, and words will become but vehicles for visual notes, sketches, details and finished works. You can follow me, if you care to, through the journey that is but a gentle walk in comparison to that travelled by the most important people in this project as a whole… the patients, the women who give of their own patience, their time and their trust, and without whom none of this could be done.
Dr Jac Saorsa
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org