I was scootering through the mountains of Taiwan, drinking bubble tea and teaching art to preschoolers when I heard the words that no one ever wants to hear: you have cancer. Within moments, my life shifted from beach parties, waterfall chasing, and island hopping to fertility appointments, surgeries, and chemo. It seemed as if my carefree life had been shattered and there was no way to pick up the pieces.
Following my diagnosis in Taiwan, I packed my bags and moved back to the states for treatment. There, I began painting. Amidst the brokenness that cancer had caused, I found myself more whole every time I picked up a paintbrush.
I realized that there was no way to re-experience life before cancer; I couldn’t un-know the devastation of my diagnosis and I couldn’t put the pieces of my life together exactly as they had been before. However, during this painful season, I discovered something truly beautiful: my artwork had the power to create a sense of community among young cancer survivors.
Cancer took a lot from me, and I will never be thankful for that. But despite the pain that it has caused, the unexpected impact of my art continues to astound me. My donation-based shop–Ten By Ten–has been welcomed with open arms not only by the online cancer community, but also my local community in Madison, Wisconsin. Because of this support, 10x10 has been able to donate over $10,000 thousand dollars to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since 2020. The experience of creating art and sharing stories has been humbling to say the least. I am so grateful for the personal growth I have encountered through this journey, and I look forward to continuing 10x10’s artistic endeavor for years to come.