Sketch 11 by Rosemary Griggs

We named David Ray the positive spin monkey because he could put the spin on just about anything and make it sound bearable. In the beginning, he said that I surely wasn’t a candidate for breast cancer, and then I was. After the first biopsy he said, “Okay so it’s only a centimeter. A lumpectomy, some radiation and you’re good to go.” Then after more tests and biopsies, it changed to 10 centimeters and two different types of invasive cancer and he said “Okay, so they want to take both breasts, let’s do it and you’ll never have to worry about it showing up in the other breast.” And then when it became apparent that I was going to have to have aggressive chemo and Herceptin treatments, he said “Great, that drops the odds of it ever coming back into the single digits.” He’d say “So you lost your hair, now I get to see what your beautiful head looks like.” He spun a gentle circle of protection around me that got me through some of the darkest times, even though he was so scared himself.

Food, gifts, cards, free oil changes, handmade hats, scarves and socks, massages, house cleaning, dog walking, crystals, teddy bears and so much love and caring came our way. I did feel like the amazing cancer girl. Now that I’m feeling good again, I think it’s my duty to show all the people who cared for me that their hard work paid off. I’m alive. I feel good. I’m happy and well.

Author Note: A Stroll Down Mammary Lane is an illustrated journal chronicling eighteen months of our experience with breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and cure. During the long convalescence, I spent most of my time horizontal healing from multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and other treatments. I was unable to work in my pottery studio and my career as a full time ceramic sculptor was put on hold while I focused on getting through one procedure at a time. I wasn’t able to do much but I did draw and it resulted in about 90 illustrations of my process of fighting breast cancer.

More Reading: Rosemary Griggs Clay Art

Rosemary Griggs

Rosemary Griggs

As a fourth generation southern artist living on Saint Simons Island, my daily work commute consists of walking out the back door, past the koi pond and bird feeders, through the garden and into a very special place - my slightly skewed studio. I’m joined by a host of eager, four-legged “studio assistants” ready to greet another day. A full time potter since 1997, I continue to stretch the clay to new extremes as my signature style of hand built ceramics evolves. With depictions of plants, animals, fish and human forms, often united in liberating ways, my art is rooted in and inspired by the natural world. Using several different hand building techniques, I create both sculptural and functional works that often combine incongruous themes within the same piece. My family’s creative influence has played a huge role in my life. Clay and dirt are as inbedded in my soul as in my fingernails. With family art decorating our home and gardens, my husband’s mandolin music ringing throughout the house and now our daughter in the process of making her artistic mark, I count myself very fortunate to come from a family whose creativity continues to roll from one generation to the next.