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Mary Beth Lawler Art Blog

Mary Beth Lawler

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Two Tranquilizers

by marybeth , March 9, 2009—04:47 PM

Topics: healing

Last week the phone rang at 7:30 am and the caller id said it was my brother. First thing in my head "What's wrong?" To my relief he was calling to tell me that his most recent MRI showed the lung cancer had not returned. Whew!! A couple of days later I went for my first post surgical mammogram. I am not usually apprehensive but this time I was a wreck. I thought it would be painful but it wasn't. So I relaxed a little. I'm in my cubicle waiting for the high sign, when I get called in for another set. Now I'm ready to throw up. Back to my cubicle to wait. Still another set only this time on the left. The two tranquilizers I took before I left home were doing me no good at all. I was in adrenalin overdrive. The technician was very reassuring but it wasn't reassuring me… Continue reading… 2 comments

The Healing Handbook

by marybeth , March 9, 2009—12:00 AM

Topics: healing

Last month I was fortunate enough to attend a five day workshop at The North Country Studios at Bennington College (VT). The class was Thread as Markmaking and I thought this would be useful for my paper quilting. On the first morning setting up my stuff I met the woman sharing my table, Barbara. We didn't get the chance to talk much we were to busy with slides and demos and assignments. Somewhere along the way I noticed that she had one breast. The next morning I apologized for asking but asked anyway."Was it breast cancer?" She said,"It was, twice!" When I told her of my diagnosis 11 months ago she gave me the biggest hug and said "It's a cruel reason for a sisterhood." We talked a lot after that, treatment, surgery, hair loss support and healing… Continue reading… 0 comments

Thumbs Up

by marybeth , December 23, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: All Posts

I went to my oncologist yesterday for the first time since completing my therapies and he gave me a big thumbs up. He was very happy with how I looked and how much energy I had. He said "Wow you got a lotta hair!" He says that 6 months after chemo you usually have something to work with and I got plenty to work with now. My fingernails are back to normal and except for a rapidly fading scar you would never know I had breast cancer. So many people are glad to be leaving 2008 behind because it was a lousy year for them. 2008 was not a lousy year for me. It was a year of challenge, learning, healing and prevailing. It was a year of friends and family to the rescue, generosity and comfort. The whole ordeal put a very real strain on my relationship with Alex but we toughed it out, we made it… Continue reading… 2 comments

Had To Dye

by marybeth , December 2, 2008—07:45 PM

Topics: All Posts

Squirrel mode has given way to poodle mode. The gray just wasn__™t cuttin__™ it so I had to color my hair. I feel better now. Life has been hectic with work and the holidays bearing down on us. One thing I did manage to get done was making out a will. Everybody knows they need one but they don__™t want to talk about it, it__™s scary. I always put it off because I thought I had lots of time. Nothing like the word cancer to snap you out of complacency. Then when my brother became seriously ill with pulmonary issues and he didn__™t have a will either, I said, ___I__™ll go if you go___. I made the appointment and we went to the lawyer together. It was a smart thing to do, you need a will, a Health Care Proxy and designate a Power of Attorney… Continue reading… 1 comment

Hand Made Cards for Breast Cancer

by marybeth , November 6, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: greeting cards

I finally finished making 12 cards and got them sent off to an incredible woman who runs an incredible web site called Little Life Preservers. Founder, Lesa explains, "Throughout the the darkest time of my life I looked forward to going to my mailbox to see if I had any little envelopes of love waiting for me. Each card I received, that was lovingly handmade just for me, kept me afloat. Made me smile. For however brief, the moments I felt buoyed, encouraged and loved were priceless. They were my little life preservers. So came the name of this site. Each card sent from is lovingly handmade and sent with great HOPE and LOVE to it__™s recipient. It is a small gesture but done with BIG love… Continue reading… 1 comment

Walk For The Cure

by marybeth , October 28, 2008—09:06 PM

Topics: All Posts

On Sunday October 26th myself and six of my teamates participated in the 15 annual BHF Rays of Hope Walk for the Cure. It was a perfect fall day for a 5 mile walk in the Park. Forest Park that is, a beautiful, well maintained, large public park in Springfield, Massachusetts. We had an unusually mild sunny day with 15,000 walkers participating! It was an awe-inspiring sea of pink shirts and smiling faces. More than 420 teams, thousands of individual walkers, 80 grassroots events, hundreds of businesses as corporate or in-kind sponsors, and more than 25 schools helped us raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research, education, outreach, and patient services and programs throughout Western Massachusetts… Continue reading… 0 comments

Bad Hair Day

by marybeth , September 25, 2008—07:25 PM

Topics: healing

I just washed my hair and I can't do a thing with it! Can you believe this? Everyone said my hair would grow in curly, instead it's growing in squirrely. How are you supposed to style this? I know it's "normal" but it looks really funny. I don't even want to talk about the gray… Continue reading… 3 comments

The Tortoise and the Hair

by marybeth , September 10, 2008—11:38 AM

Topics: chemotherapy and hair…, creative time

It's taken some time, but I have enough hair now that I don't feel totally self conscious. You get a lot of comments when your hair is this short. (I think I look a little butch.) No signs of curls yet though, just a lot of cow licks. Eyelashes are coming in fast which is also good. Gluing on false eyelashes to go to the grocery store was getting tiresome. I'm vain, what can I say? Just back from my first post treatment visit with the Radiologist and he was pleased with my state of mind and body. I've dropped a few pounds, got a lot of energy back and I am raring to go, but...I have to be very selective about what I throw myself into from now on. I was over committed before and I loved it but no more. Now, I like having some time to myself to spend with Alex and my creative pursuits… Continue reading… 6 comments

About as exciting as

by marybeth , August 19, 2008—08:18 PM

Topics: time, toxins

... watching Mary's hair grow. I'd love to do a time lapse of my hair growing. Yeah right, like I have nothing else to do. For some odd reason there were no thunderstorms today, so I drove with the sunroof open. and it was luxurious, wind swooping over your head, no knotted hair, no hair in your mouth. Feels pretty good. Feels free. This afternoon I was next to a woman at a traffic light. She didn't look much older than me and there she was sucking on a cigarette. I know, I used to smoke many moons ago, but with everything we know now it's insane to smoke, especially for women… Continue reading… 4 comments

Look Ma - hair!

by marybeth , August 1, 2008—10:09 PM

Topics: chemotherapy, chemotherapy and hair…

___Oh my God, what have you done to your hair? That color is fabulous on you. Have you thought about covering the grey? Don__™t cut your hair. Who does your hair?___ The covers of the cancer books and inspirational tapes say, ___It__™s not about the hair.___ Oh YES IT IS about the hair! In our culture, as with many others, looks are everything and while we may say that looks don__™t matter, when they are your looks. they matter. This issue is not new to the present time either.… Continue reading… 5 comments

Friends Near and Far

by marybeth , July 23, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: radiation

A few weeks ago, my friend, Gaye who lives in England now, came stateside for a visit. We met at her sister's house in Connecticut for a lovely dinner on a Sunday afternoon that was ideal. Her sisters house has a big wrap around porch that overlooks a pond and the air was busy with dragonflies and hummingbirds. Gaye and I were cocktail waitresses together through our college summers and have remained friends ever since. She and her husband moved to the UK almost 20 years ago, and while we call and write regularly, somehow it's not the same as seeing someone in person. I have gone to Great Britain 3 times and I love it there… Continue reading… 0 comments

Who Am I?

by marybeth , July 4, 2008—05:02 PM

Topics: creative time, healing

A few days ago I caught a glimpse of myself in a store window. I was looking at a stranger, in many ways. I didn't look like myself. Not just the bald head, the expression on the face looking back at me. It was like an out of body experience. So much has happened so fast, sometimes I feel like Dorothy, whipped about in the funnel and unceremoniously dropped in a strange land and having to find her way home. I presumed my art work had all but stopped because I was tired, but now I think my work, my inspiration and motivation have dwindled because they belong to the other me. The "multi tasking, obsessively productive, run, run, run, until you drop" me. She is on retreat somewhere trying to learn yoga and kick caffeine… Continue reading… 4 comments

The Beginning and the End

by marybeth , June 25, 2008—03:39 PM

Topics: healing

I am three weeks out from the last chemo infusion and some side affects are disappearing and some new ones are popping up. Nausea and metallic taste are gone but watery eyes, swelling and fingernails falling off have set in. They have given me drugs for both the eyes and swelling (Yeah! more drugs!) but there isn't much they can do for dead fingernails. I started radiation yesterday and it is indeed very quick and uneventful. Side effects of the radiation will start to show up as the treatments continue, skin damage (I have drugs) and fatigue mostly. Oh good, fatigue, I wouldn't want that to go away! I will have 30 treatments, Monday through Friday for 6 weeks. The people at the Center are fabulous, it was a little chilly this morning so they wrapped me in warm blankets… Continue reading… 3 comments

Calligraphy at Snow Farm

by marybeth , June 25, 2008—03:15 PM

Topics: Snow Farm

Snow Farm is one of those great places where you can study an art or craft intensely, usually for a week, and become immersed in the process. Free from the interruptions of television, cell phones and computers the mind quiets, the breathing slows and the body opens to receive inspiration. Solitude is balanced by community. Meals are the gathering site and conversation flows, sharing experiences, exchanging ideas. Energy is palpable as is the peace and quiet. The studios are always open if you want to work before breakfast or long into the night. I taught Calligraphy to four lovely women who learned and advanced so quickly I had to scramble to find projects for them at the end of the week… Continue reading… 0 comments

Chemotherapy Comes To An End

by marybeth , June 6, 2008—02:38 PM

Topics: chemotherapy, healing

I was going to write this update last week while I was home recuperating but I felt so lousy I decided to wait. I'm so glad I did. The last blast was a strong one and it really knocked me down. Last week I was miserable, sick, cranky, angry and not a lot of fun. My blog would not have been a pleasant read. This week I feel more like myself again. The chemotherapy is still doing it's thing in my system and I am still experiencing all of the side effect but I am feeling some of them beginning to fade. Last week I was one with the bed, just rolling over was not worth the effort but now I have more energy, I'm able to work and looking forward to teaching at Snow Farm in Williamsburg, MA the week of the 16th. www.snowfarm.orgContinue reading… 5 comments

Getting Ready for the Last Treatment

by marybeth , May 27, 2008—11:57 AM

Topics: calligraphy, healing

Tomorrow is my last chemotherapy infusion. How do you spell "screaming and jumping up and down"? I'll still feel rotten for a week or two but who cares, I have plenty of popsicles and the weather is gorgeous and my patio is clean and ready for me. My friend Jamie came over and helped (she did most of it) weed and prep one of the gardens. There are herbs in that one mostly but I add a few annuals for color. I puttered around a few of the other beds and the perennials are coming back strong. I even managed to get the Clematis I planted last year to survive. I've tried twice before and they didn't make it but this one is off to a great start. Over the Memorial Day Weekend I spent considerable time finishing up several calligraphy jobs that will all be due next week… Continue reading… 3 comments

Fish and False Eyelashes

by marybeth , May 16, 2008—12:41 PM

Topics: healing

I'm getting cranky, just ask Alex, "Yes my love." he says patiently and gets me another popsicle or whatever else it is I'm too tired to do myself. This last chemo round was a rough one, I guess I'm tired of being tired and sick of being sick, so I get cranky. My fingertips are going numb and everything tastes weird. Even wine doesn't taste good. This is an outrage! When I feel good I do as much as I can because I need a sense of accomplishment. Thank God there is only one more. My apologies to those who suffer through much longer periods of treatment. My prayers are with them… Continue reading… 3 comments

Three Down, One To Go

by marybeth , May 9, 2008—06:39 PM

Topics: healing, toxins

My third chemotherapy infusion was Wednesday. My friend Sandy DeCristofaro ( came with me. Good thing for me, not so good for her. The place was packed and I had to wait for a chair. All in all we were there for 5 hours. Lunch time came and went so we nibbled on animal crackers. We did have some lively conversations with the other patients about movies and cooking. Everyone talks pretty openly about their situation and treatment, comparing notes and suggestions for coping. Several people were there for their first infusion so they were full of questions. Normally the nurses spend a great deal of time with each patient, but that day they were really hopping. When we finally got out we were starving and I had a craving for steak… Continue reading… 3 comments

Two Down, Two to Go

by marybeth , April 24, 2008—03:18 PM

Topics: aesthetics, healing

My "cranial prosthesis" has arrived and I'm still chuckling over the words "cranial prosthesis". It's from the Latin for fake head. I like this style so much I want to do this for real when my hair grows back. My eyelashes are falling out now, but my dear friend Florence bought me some new ones. Isn't it grand that in this age of technology we can repair, replace or enhance just about anything? So here we have, fake hair, fake eyelashes, contacts and this afternoon I'm going to stop at CVS and buy a tan. I'm no proponent of surgical enhancement, I don't think I'd ever go that far but now I do understand the impact that physical appearance can have on the psyche. I am happy to go around with no hair, it's great! Everyone should try it… Continue reading… 10 comments

Rule #1, no blond jokes! Life as a blond is indeed interesting. I can't say I am having MORE fun, but I am having fun. I am getting another wig that is darker like my natural hair. I'll post a picture of that when it comes in. After I finished whining about losing my hair, I had Alex shave off what few tufts that were left and an extraordinary thing happened. I love having no hair! It's cool and comfortable, no blow drying and styling, no product, just slap it on and go. Change persona daily if you want. It will be interesting to see if my work changes any when I'm blond or hairless. I will have my second of four infusions tomorrow so we'll see how I feel. I want to thank all of you for your messages of support… Continue reading… 10 comments