Over the past couple years since my diagnosis, I’ve spoken with several young adult cancer survivors in person, joined some online conversations and read may articles. I’ve noticed a common theme particular to the young adult community, which is the idea of identity.
As I thought about this theme, I had a very particular way I wanted to represent it visually. But then I stumbled across the other, which made me think more about my connection with two different perspectives of identity that I feel other’s may relate to as well.
As a young adult you’re still coming into your own, finding your values, personality, skills, career. Your still emerging and finding your place. A diagnosis (or really any trauma) stops this, puts it on hold, and you find your self in a place of suspension. Meanwhile the rest of the world goes on without you – friends, family, jobs (or school). Eventually, once you’ve overcome the trauma (hopefully) and have made it through surgery/treatment/etc. you’ll have to put yourself back into motion. And that means figuring out who you are, and that might include a different trajectory. You have changed. You may have a different “face” than you started out with.
Another perspective is for those, perhaps slightly older, or more established in their relationships or careers when they were diagnosed. It is the idea of defacement. While you once knew who you were and what you wanted, it’s been erased. (I think this is particularly true through the brain cancer community, where loosing your ability to focus, remember, speak, and move is so tangible.)
Here are my two newest art pieces on this theme: