The Healing Power of Art
It’s a personal project of mine that I’ve just released on the website Art Mends. On the site, you will find several coloring pages that can be downloaded for royalty-free use. I hope to add at least one new image every week.
Art Mends was originally created to provide free art supplies and coloring pages to a local hospital. But I had to give up that project when I became my late wife's full-time cancer caregiver. Hereditary cancer changed everything.
I was inspired to rework Art Mends after doing several art activities and coloring pages as a contributor for Cure Today, the cancer care website. After seeing some of those activities, a reader suggested that I create a coloring book, sell it, and donate the proceeds to a cancer charity. But I think just providing royalty-free pages that can be downloaded anytime for free is far more beneficial for cancer patients and cancer caregivers.
Of course, anyone else who is ill or grieving that might need a creative break is welcome to use the pages as well.
There are no ads or donation requests, just art activities created by me.
The very thought of someone struggling with a cancer diagnosis is heartbreaking. I wish I could cure it. Or better yet, prevent it. But I’m just a professional artist, so the best I can do is try and use my artistic abilities to give someone suffering from the malevolent disease a creative break.
#CancerPatients #CancerCaregivers #ArtTherapy #ArtActivities #cancer #CancerIsEvil.
Possible Signs of Hereditary Cancer
This is the last of the
infographics I created about germline mutations. This is the part that
is often missed when trying to "connect the dots" in hereditary cancer.
Sadly, this lack of knowledge about how one single germline mutation can cause different cancers in family members is why genetic testing is often not recommended for some individuals who may be at risk for hereditary cancer. I know, because it tragically happened to my late wife.
That's why sharing family health history, genetic testing, and genetic counseling are so important. Genetic testing saves lives. Knowledge is power.
You can download the graphic here: www.MARKiX.net/germline
#BRCA2 #BRCA1 #CHEK2 #ATM #PALB2 #PTEN #MLH1 #MSH2 #MSH6 #TP53 #LynchSyndrome #1FORCECommunity #FacingOurRisk #HBOC #BeAFORCEofChange
DNA, Mutations, and Blood Relatives
I created this infographic for My Faulty Gene, a nonprofit organization. My Faulty Gene "provides information and assistance to underserved, uninsured, and underinsured individuals whose family medical history suggests genetic testing might be helpful in identifying an increased risk of disease due to a genetic mutation."
So many people seem to struggle with genetics. They just don't seem to understand that our DNA connects us to so many people -- and diseases. Sometimes I get confused looks when I try to explain about the BRCA2 germline mutation in my late wife's family and how so many in her family are affected by the exact same variant. That's why I created this.
A Simple Explanation of BRCA Genes
Because rendering a
piece of artwork is easier for me as a professional illustrator than
trying to explain over and over verbally about my previvor adult child's
and late wife’s BRCA2 variant, I created this…
Again, please share the graphic. Knowledge is power!
A PDF can be downloaded here:
What is a Germline Mutation?
|Click on the image to download the PDF.|
When I talk or write about hereditary cancer as an advocate, I often mention "germline" when referring to mutations that can cause cancer. But I’ve come to realize that many people don’t seem to know what I’m talking about. So I created this graphic and had it reviewed by a certified genetic counselor. (Thank you, Emily Goldberg, MS, CGC, at JScreen.org!)
Tragically, it's because of the lack of basic understanding of genetics, even among some health care professionals, that I’m now a widower.
One mutation, a broken BRCA2 gene, that I can now recite by heart, has caused several different cancers and numerous cancer deaths in my late wife’s family. The same BRCA2 mutation (c.3545_****delTT) has been passed down in my wife’s family for at least four generations. And it might have already been passed to the fifth generation.
But now that the specific mutation has been identified, the cycle of cancer can be broken. That’s why genetic knowledge, genetic testing, and the sharing of family health information are so important.
What is in your germline?
This graphic can be downloaded at: http://www.markix.net/germline
Grief Tourist Defined
“Grief tourist” is a term I’ve heard used many times in the cancer and grief communities that I’m now, unfortunately, a part of. And I have witnessed grief tourism personally. Sadly, it’s a far too common occurrence.
I created this graphic a while back, but was reluctant to share it because I didn’t want anything to take away from my hereditary cancer advocacy work. But damn, I even see it in my cancer advocacy work, so I decided to call it out.
Encountered any grief tourists in one your difficult journeys in life? Share the graphic.
About BRCA Genes & Mutations
Talking openly about
health history with your family is important. Documenting that
information, especially if there is a family history of cancer, can be
There have been more than 50 hereditary cancer syndromes discovered so far. Many of the cancers associated with these syndromes can be prevented.
Being aware of a family history of cancer can provide important information that you and your physician can use to determine if you’re a candidate for genetic testing, more frequent screenings, and/or other preventive measures.
Download a free Family Health/Cancer History Pedigree PDF. There’s no advertising or donations associated with this, it’s just a simple tool I created to help you learn about your family’s health history.
Just a Little Art for Earth Day
Yesterday I put aside the grief work and hereditary cancer advocacy and practiced a little self-care. I picked up a pencil and some paint brushes and did a little nature art for art’s sake in honor of Earth Day.
This is my rendering of a desert grassland whiptail lizard that routinely strolls around my yard. Fortunately, it felt comfortable enough to pause and let me do a few sketches.
Know nature. Learn to be still.
#EarthDay #NatureArt #nature #DesertGrasslandWhiptailLizard #WhiptailLizard #ArtForArtsSake #illustration #NatureIllustration #herpetology #ReptileArt #WildlifeArt
Hereditary Cancer Changed Everything
I had planned on just fading into the background and enjoying the artist’s life without art directors, editors, agents, and other gatekeepers. Maybe donate a few art supplies where needed and continuing to volunteer for the NPS and maybe paint “happy little trees” somewhere green. But something happened that should have never happened. Hereditary cancer changed everything.
Being a cancer caregiver, solo parent of a previvor, and a hereditary cancer awareness and prevention advocate was something I could have never imagined. It’s the flip side of whimsical. And I really don't want to be there.
Here is a link to an article about how my late wife's nightmare cancer story began and how I became a hereditary cancer prevention advocate. https://www.brcastrong.org/blog/hereditary-cancer-changed-everything
I only share this story in the hopes that the conversation about hereditary cancer will improve among families with a history of cancer and health care professionals that at times seem unaware that there are cancers that can be prevented. Nobody should die of a preventable cancer. Nobody!
Thank you BRCAStrong for asking me to share this story.
Because my adult child is a previvor and because my late wife should also be one, I often use the word "previvor" in my articles about hereditary cancer at Cure Today and other places. However, many people have never heard of the word or don’t know the accurate definition. And, not surprisingly, much of the info on the internet just doesn’t correctly explain it. So here’s is my attempt to define it and to shed some light on its origin.
Feel free to share the graphic.
#hereditarycancer #BRCA2 #BRCA1 #CHEK2 #ATM #PALB2 #PTEN #TP53 #BARD1 #MLH1 #MLH2 #MSH6 #KnowledgeIsPower #previvor #cancerchangedeverything #canceradvocate #cancerprevention #cancercaregiving #genetictesting