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Two Years after of a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Tatas Block Print, Fundraising for Breast Cancer Causes.

In the spring of 2021, in the thick of the pandemic, distance learning with three kids at home, and putting a pause on my print workshops and art shows, I discovered a lump in my breast that turned out to be stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma. I documented my journey in a separate forum here. During those disorienting first weeks of my diagnosis and while preparing for a double mastectomy, I dusted off my printing tools and designed a print of breasts that I wanted to sell as a fundraiser for a now personal cause: Breast Cancer research and also Camp Kesem. I made limited editions of this print on paper as well as on fabric for neck kerchiefs. In the first year of Tatas I raised over $6,000 in sales and donations. It was truly a fulfilling dedication of time and practice to made the Tatas prints and to heal at the same time.

I dedicated the majority of my time to strengthening my mind and body. I continued to mountain bike in the Santa Cruz mountains near where I live. I joined a small crossFit class with friends. I started a bone strengthening program. I knew that my 5-year long Cancer Treatment plan of suppressing ovary function and stopping estrogen would lead to bone decline. All my physicians and oncologists recommended to begin weight-bearing exercises, putting heavy loads of weight onto my bones. Learning all about bones was a huge part of this next phase of my life, since I have been going through a medically induced menopause. I know that I would be losing bone in an accelerated rate in the absence of estrogen.

In 2022 I was asked by my Breast Surgeon Anne Peled (who is also a breast cancer survivor) to join her in an Athleta ad campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness month. I was honored and excited to join her and a fellow survivor Hill Moss in a fun photoshoot. I also got to share some of my experience and tips to other women facing the same journey.

Now two years have passed. The Tatas prints are still in production. I am adding new color combinations for everything, including some excellent quality MTB Fenders. They are easy to put on and take off, and add a fun pop of color to my bike. As with all Tatas prints, sales from the MTB Fender made by GroundKeeper (in Bellingham, WA) are donated to BCRF and Camp Kesem. The newest colors are available for pre-sale now. They will be shipped after October 2023.

Life has returned to as normal as possible for me, calibrating to busier, more active kids in the house, more homework, more sports, more doctors appointments for me, more volunteering at school, more bike rides, more doggy baseball with Willow the Weimaraner, and hopefully more time to do art. My heart is full, and I am so very grateful to be where I am, how I am, and joined by tender yet tenacious loved ones and friends to do it all with me.

Thanks for reading along!

<3, Joan

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