Lisa Weier and Emma Lyons
“The Gift That Breast Cancer Gave Me”
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The Story
Lisa Weier
Chicago, IL
Social Media: @weiered (IG); Lisa.weier.90 (FB)
Caregiver and Survivor
Twist on Cancer: It’s no secret that cancer is a thief taking health, energy, finances, life. In 2006, when helping my mom navigate her breast cancer diagnosis, cancer robbed me of the ability to simply be my mom’s child. I became one of her caregivers. In June 2008, I became her only caregiver when we lost my dad without warning. Later that year, my mom celebrated her two-year survivor anniversary and we walked the three-day in November. Yet, two short months later, we found ourselves in a fierce and exhausting battle over the non-Hodgkin’s that would steal her life. The thief won.

Drowning in grief after losing both my parents within 11 months, I was diagnosed with my own breast cancer in 2010. As a single mom of two young boys, I was fearful to find out what else cancer would take. To my surprise, it finally stopped taking and gave back instead. It gifted me the unwavering love and support of friends who are truly my family. These beloved friends have proven that they will stand beside me and carry me. They will be there for brief moments of levity and long hours of contemplation. They will simply be there. And when I can only see the shadows, they will remind me that I’m still here to experience the miraculous light of my two sons. I win.

Recently, cancer has gifted me one more thing: a new cherished friend who has not only created a beautiful masterpiece, but is one.
Emma Lyons
Chicago, IL
www.EmmaLyonsArt.com
Social Media: @EmmaLyonsArt
“The Gift That Breast Cancer Gave Me”
Acrylic on Canvas
24” x 24”- unframed
$500
Artist Statement: Lisa’s beautiful story, both as a caretaker and a survivor, is one full of layers and moments, people and emotions, victories and letting go. To envision that story as an artwork, I needed each layer to be its own set apart piece, worthy of being focused on and loved in its individuality.
During one of our visits together, when she graciously invited me into her home, we sat on her backyard deck and watched the sky shift colors as the day exhaled. She confessed how much of a morning person she is, and that she loves taking moments to herself in that very spot to watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee. (This is before she pours herself out during the day as a mother, a giver, and a friend.)

“I love sunrises,” she says. “But they feel so dichotomous.”

In optimism, they bring forth newness. Push us forward. Remind us that we always have opportunities to start fresh.

But, oh, the pain of seeing a sunrise when you’re in mourning. How dare the sun brighten the sky when your world is still so dark! How dare the world be able to keep moving onward when you can barely feel your feet to move them!

But move it does. And to invite both gratefulness and grief in at the same time is a lesson I think we all continue to learn throughout our lives.

The exciting second layer expands beyond the front of the canvas to the side panels, layering words on words - Because Lisa’s love language is language itself. The words on this canvas list the names of her parents, children, and inner circle of supportive best friends. They hold quotes from her parents that she still holds close to her heart, and revelations she’s documented of her own experience. Revelations of seeing how well she is loved, saying, “it is the gift that breast cancer gave me.”

As soon as it was on the painting, I knew those words were the title. Because what else can we focus on when we battle and support and caregiver other than the love we all get to offer and receive in this life?

Then comes the third and final layer to the front of the painting. My abstracture style covers almost completely the first two layers, nearly reducing them to guidelines for the main attraction.

And that’s the gesture that Lisa was drawn to the most after taking in how beautifully the colors in this layer blended together: that no one sees what’s behind your story at first glance.

I encourage you, dear viewer, to look in. To the depth of the painting. To the depth of the people around you.