Tamia Greene-Sanders & Karen Kingsolver and Bev Dyer

Karen Kingsolver and Beverly Dyer Art
“Love, Gratitude, and Connection Journal”
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The Story
Tamia Sanders Green
Tamia Greene-Sanders
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Twist on Cancer: Caregiver. Such a simple compound word, but a word whose implications can make a lifelong impact upon those called to operate in this role. It is a role for which there is little to no time to prepare, for a loved one’s cancer diagnosis is often sudden and unexpected. I felt in no way prepared to handle the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual turmoil that my mother’s gastric cancer diagnosis inflicted upon all of us when the medical team gave their report. To transition from depending upon my mother for love, care, and steadfast support to becoming the one relied upon during her illness struck fear to my very core. Could I provide the care that my mother required? Would I be able to maintain a strong resolve in the face of her suffering? Could I offer encouragement when my own heart was breaking? Would I be able to let go when God decided to call her home?
While I felt that my skills were woefully inadequate to support my mother through her cancer battle, somehow, I did. No, not somehow…God gave me the strength that I needed to adjust to a new normal—my mother’s doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, my teaching job, and daily family chores. Maintaining a brave face because my mother, ever the loving, sacrificial, and concerned mother, did not want to see me cry.
Caregivers of loved ones with cancer know that night times are for crying. When others are sleeping, you are crying. Questioning. Lamenting. Arguing. Planning. And crying some more. When the new day dawns, you put on your brave face, smile, and ask for strength to manage the new day’s schedule. When others ask how you are faring, you insist you are perfectly fine, even though fear, doubt, and uncertainty about your loved one’s prognosis lurk around every corner. It’s what caregivers must do in order to manage every aspect of their loved one’s cancer care without succumbing to anxiety and fatigue.
Is caring for your loved one the most difficult part of caregiving? No, providing care is an honor and a joy, knowing that you are there to offer the one battling cancer love, support, and assistance. The most difficult part of caregiving is when the caregiving is over, and your loved one no longer needs care whether due to a hopeful remission from cancer or the devastating loss of the loved one. When my mother passed away 10 months after her diagnosis, my extreme grief at losing her was intermingled with a sense of a loss of my life’s purpose as well. It was only after the period of caregiving was over that an ultimate understanding of what we had gone through surfaced. The silence, emptiness, and loneliness—the painful residual aftermath that the end of caregiving leaves behind for some.
Yet, answering the call to be a caregiver and providing unconditional love and support to a loved one is an honor. Watching my mother bravely battle cancer while continuing to love and care for her family gave me the strength to rise to the demands of caregiving. Caregiving has given me a heightened appreciation for those in similar roles who are standing by those courageously facing cancer and inspiring all of us along the way. One of the greatest gifts that my mother instilled in me is an awareness of the needs of others and the willingness to meet those needs lovingly, tirelessly, and selflessly.

Thank you, Mommy. I will always love you.

In loving memory of Jewel E. Greene
Karen Kingsolver Headshot
Karen Kingsolver
“Love, Gratitude, and Connection Journal”
Acrylic, watercolor, art papers, ephemera and fabric
6” Width. 9” Height. 3/4” Depth.
Artist Statement: Combining their experiences using creative materials and expression for healing, Bev Dyer and Karen Kingsolver created this project. They decided on a journal format to chronicle what happens when a great and deep love allows a calling that defies exhaustion and defeat.

Tamia was our inspiration and this journal is based on the hours of Tamia’s conversations with Karen, as well as Tamia’s spiritual writings.

Tamia's story is fundamentally a love story about her amazingly generous and altruistic mother. \This story started with Tamia's birth and continued through her mother’s passing, as now Tamia’s own generosity and mothering of her first-grade children continues her mom’s spirit.

We were struck by Tamia’s strength, as evidenced in the story of her caregiving for both her parents and during this time of pandemic when Tamia had to do all of her classes on a video platform. Her care and concern for her children and their parents became the focus of some of our conversations, as she turned her attention on how to reach each of the kids during this difficult time. Our hearts go out to all teachers and other first responders and essential workers who are showing the kind of superhuman effort we see in Tamia.
Beverly Dyer