When she was having treatment for her first bout of breast cancer in 2001, and feeling unwell almost to the point of despair, her sister Jen encouraged her to buy an easel.
It sat empty in her living room for a while.
One day Jen dropped by and left a big visual art diary, two sharp pencils and a stick of charcoal on the easel.
“I walked past it many times leaving the pages blank, then one day on a dear friend’s suggestion, I drew just one line on a page,” she said.
“Before long found myself dragging the easel into the bathroom (where Jen had set up a full length mirror on the wall) and I started to draw myself.”
After a while, Barb began to see the beauty in the lines of her body, which had been transformed by her mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
“I started to feel a trickle of happiness and hope,” she said.
“It allowed me to feel a sense of recovery from the inside.
“I just clicked over from feeling terrible to feeling good about myself.”
Not long after, she was inspired to set up Byron Bay’s first Breast Cancer Support Group, as well as the local branch of Rainbow Dragon’s Abreast, who paddle their dragon boat at Lake Ainsworth on Sunday mornings.
Unfortunately, Barb received a second diagnosis of breast cancer in July this year and has had to take a break from her work.
Sense of strength
She is currently in the middle of a heavy chemotherapy regime, and has rediscovered her art remembering and feeling the sense of strength it gave her last time.
The catalyst this time was on one of Barb’s visits to Tweed Cancer Unit, where she saw a flyer about an art competition called the ‘Mural of Survivorship’.
Organised by the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute, the competition aims to show how artworks and stories of breast cancer survivors and their loved ones can help in their healing journeys.
Barb unearthed her art diary, found one of the powerful images she had drawn during her recovery last time, and submitted it to the competition.
Her son Daniel, (who, along with his brother Paul has been through the two diagnoses with their mum), has also submitted an entry.
It has inspired Barb to get out the old easel, buy another art diary, and start putting lines on the pages once again.
Barb writes on the mural website that “I already feel happiness trickling through in anticipation.”
Both Barb and Daniel’s works can be seen at www.muralofsurvivorship.com.au.
The Byron Bay Breast Cancer Support Group is encouraging the community to cast a vote in the people’s choice award on the ‘Mural of Survivorship’ website, as any prizemoney received would be of great help to Barb and her family and Barb wishes to express her gratitude to the women from the BBBCSG and members of the community for supporting herself and her family during this challenging time.
The group is also supporting an ongoing fundraiser for Barb and her family - donations can be sent to B Pinter, PO Box 176, Byron Bay 2481 or by direct deposit to St George Bank account Ms B M Pinter No 464829600 BSB 112-879.
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