When Sally Loughridge was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, she experienced a range of emotions including fear, anger and vulnerability. As a coping strategy, Loughridge, a retired clinical psychologist, turned her vision of cancer cells escaping her body and her feelings of being on an emotional rollercoaster into a series of breathtaking paintings and captions that are part of a new book published by the American Cancer Society.
Rad Art: A Journey through Radiation Treatment represents the emotional journey of a cancer patient through 33 beautiful oil paintings that Loughridge created while undergoing radiation therapy.
“After the initial shock of being diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt a surge of unfamiliar, uncomfortable emotions that I could not articulate easily,” remarked Loughridge. “When radiation was recommended after surgery, I knew that I needed a private strategy to help steady myself, in addition to the loving support of family and friends. I turned to painting, knowing that visual art, as a lifelong personal resource, could help me feel alive and vital during this harrowing time.”
Each day after undergoing treatment, Loughridge would go right to her studio and start painting on a blank five-by-seven inch canvas. She took no more than 20 minutes to finish each session. When she stopped, she would write down her feelings as another coping mechanism. Her friends and family encouraged her to turn the paintings and captions into a book.
“Painting has always helped me feel connected to, and a part of, the natural world,” said Loughridge. “When I paint, I become a more humble and sensitive observer of the world and attuned to my emotional resonance with it.”
Painting and writing became a much needed distraction for Loughridge.
“In the midst of fear and uncertainty, I found a measure of peace by expressing myself through painting,” said Loughridge. “Some of the resulting paintings brought a smile, even laughter, to my lips. The act of painting daily after radiation gave me some sense of self control, when so much was suddenly out of my control.”
Rad Art: A Journey through Radiation Treatment is available for purchase at www.cancer.org/bookstore, by calling 1-800-227-2345, or at any online or retail bookseller.