So a few days ago, I found various lumps that may or may not be cancer. I went into the understandable emotional nosedive. I was on the phone with my doctor’s nurse and heard myself crying and saying, “I’m scared! I’m so scared!” I’m already on my way into that nebulous world of clinic visits, testing, waiting for test results. I’ve been there before. It’s not a fun place to be.

I’m also here, putting my thoughts together to write a column on booth design.

So why am I writing about how to display your work when I should be focusing on whether there’s a chance I won’t be here in a few short years?

Because the cancer can wait.

I don’t mean I’m in control of that. In fact, I’m NOT in control of that. I either have it, or it’s something else. Whatever “it” is will involve weeks of testing, pain, discomfort, waiting, no matter what…and probably there will be no clear answers or final resolution.

But I’m not here on earth to have cancer.

I’m here to do a lot of other things. And I’ve got to focus on doing them as much as I can, as long as I can, until that’s no longer under my control.

I pitched my old column recently to a new magazine editor.  I was asked to describe it.  I wrote, “I write how becoming an artist has made me a better person.” I meant that.

Focusing on making art–and being becoming a martial artist–with passion, and honesty, has helped me become a more authentic person. Someone who things carefully about what I want to say and who I want to be. It’s made me want to share the process, so others, if they are so inclined, can do it, too.

The desire to continue this process, and writing about it, has made me not only a better artist, but a better wife, mother, friend, person.

The threat of cancer has only made that desire burn more fiercely yet.

I wasn’t going to tell anyone, not yet. I hate the drama queen approach to life. I don’t want to drum up a ton of sympathy when it’s not even certain what’s going on.

Yet the last time I tried to carry something like this alone, it got weird. People knew something was terribly wrong–and assumed it was our friendship. Then I had a lot of back story to give out, and a lot of explaining to do. Painful.

And of course, there was the resentment that I hadn’t considered them enough of a friend to tell them. Ouch! In trying to spare people anxiety, I had increased mine (by going it alone) and insulted them.

So this time I’m letting people know.  And letting them know what I need right now.

And letting them know what I don’t need.

I don’t want a lot of cancer stories. Yet. Maybe that will change. But right now, I don’t want to hear the long, involved, courageous battle stories. I don’t feel very courageous. And I’m sorry, but I’m totally involved with MY story.

I don’t want a lot of sympathy, either. A quick hug will do it.

I don’t want people to disappear, either. Some people don’t know what to do. (I’m always one of those people.) They don’t know what I want. Hey, I don’t know, either.

Last night, though, I thought of one thing I do want.

I want authentic moments.

When I’m with people I care about and like, I just want them to be their own selves.

If they are being whiney or pissy or silly, I now have the freedom to tell them that. I don’t mean the cancer trump card–like, “You don’t get to complain, I might have cancer” thing. That’s selfish. People are entitled to their own lives.

I mean I get to encourage people to be their authentic selves. Like “You are so incredible and you have such wonderful gifts–what’s holding you back in this situation from you being the most wonderful “you” you can be?”

Life is short. Life is achingly sweet. Why spend time and energy digging a hole any deeper, when you can dig some steps and get out of the hole?

(I’m so compulsive about my metaphors being perfect, I have to add, “Unless your goal in life is to dig holes”, in which case, keep on digging.)

So this ordeal is not the hole. It’s just a little water in the bottom, encouraging me to dig those steps a little faster.

P.S.  I wrote this a couple weeks ago, when I first got the scary news.  I’m through the first round of testing, and so far the results are encouraging.  Looks like there’s nothing to be scared of, for now.

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

9 thoughts on “IT CAN WAIT”

  1. I have tears in my eyes after reading your blog. You don’t know me but I feel like I know you. I have followed your work and read your comments on the ACC Forum for years and, more recently, your blogs. I am a fellow polymer clay artist, although a complete unknown, and I want you to know that you have been a true inspiration to me. I totally “get” everything you say and I am able to relate to all of the issues that you talk about. I just want to say thank you for your willingness to be open about your life and your work and for sharing your wealth of knowledge with others. I pray that you will continue to receive good reports and I will keep you in my prayers. BTW, I am a preacher’s wife.


  2. Thanks to all of you for letting me know how you feel–you are all awesome! I love those cyber hugs. :^)

    Mary, thank you so much for letting me know my words have helped you. I often feel like I’ve gone out a little too far on that proverbial limb. It’s good to know the process has encouraged others in their climb, too!


  3. Well here is another hug from a consistant reader. I have benifited from your blog as well. Its my morning ritual…instead of reading the headlines and or gossip, I turn to your inspirational words. I am a still budding artist and mother and try to balance both worlds. You have a true gift in your work, your writing and your sharing of your experiences. It is much appreciated. I wish you only the best and hope that the people that can actually hug you give you lots of support and understanding.
    Thanks Deborah Hill


  4. Hi there–I’m new to your blog but like what I see and I just had to comment here. Not only did I have a cancer scare a year ago but the scare lead to a diagnosis which lead to treatment which lead to a realignment of my whole thought process and life. I was lucky, my cancer scare was a minor one. I had a minimum of treatment (a mastectomy) without too much pain, trauma or long term effects and was able to pretty much work and maintain my life as I knew it throughout. What it did do was wake me up to the total shortness of all that we think we know and how quickly a few minutes or a few words can change your life. I have always appreciated my life but now I am even more grateful for every breath I take. The kind of cancer I had will most likely creep back some day but I am ready to deal with it. For now I am here, now, in the moment and that is a good, good thing. I
    I’m glad all went well with you and wish you continued good luck and good health!


  5. I know exactly what you are going through. I found a lump on 8-30-07 and that was 1 year and 6 days from when I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer. I had already been through the anxiety on as my checkup appointment was on the 1 year anniversary of diagnosis and now I find a lump of all things. I told no-one. I had and ultrasound and a repeat mammo on that side. It appears to be a cyst so we are watching it. I go for another follow up to my oncologist in November and will address it with them. If you need an ear let me know, I am here.


  6. My thoughts are with you all. Thank you for sharing your own experiences, and I hope you all come out the other side safely.

    We all have our “stuff”, don’t we? And again, it’s what we DO with our “stuff”….

    Here’s a link to an inspiration video clip my DH sent me a few days ago:

    This guy just found out he may have TWO WEEKS to live–and this is his response!

    May we all get to a place in life where we can feel the power that comes from this kind of outlook (hopefully without this awful a prognosis!)

    We could move mountains….


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