Summer Love

By Melissa Cohen

October 25th, 2022

Cyanotype on Watercolor paper. In February 2022, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. From the moment, the doctor said he tattooed and took a biopsy of a tumor during my colonoscopy I was stunned, and the surreal experience began. Prior to this unexpected diagnosis I felt like I was rarely sick, ate well and was healthy. I never expected to hear the words, "you have colon cancer." I had no idea what it even really was. I never met anyone with it and so I told myself this isn’t so bad. I will find a doctor and they will remove it and that’s it. But what I didn’t realize was it wasn’t so simple. I was now in a club I didn’t choose to be a part of. I didn’t know how to talk about it, and no one had the right thing to say. I felt I needed silence to process and therefore turned back to making my cyanotypes, which is where I would have a conversation with myself and share with others how I was feeling. When making my art, I would forget about the diagnosis and all the things that come with cancer. The art as therapy was healing and gave me the space and time to reflect. I was able to create beauty when I felt the opposite. This is a special piece, the hands include myself, my children, my best friend of 38 years, and her children. I made this collaborative piece with the idea of having a witness of our yearly planned time together, a piece showing our connection, love, sisterhood, motherhood, support, and friendship. The flowers chosen in this image, Queen Anne’s Lace, represents, safety, sanctuary and refuge. Ferns symbolize family, hope for the future generations and new beginnings. Horseshoe crabs come from an ancient line. We love to collect them on the beach. They are a symbol that is used to protect against any form of evil and the horseshoe crab is known to protect many from diseases. Also included a crab which symbolizes resilience, adaptability, change and growth. Crabs are resourceful, they rarely back down from a fight, they aren’t aggressive, but they are not pushovers. Crabs are symbolic of our need to protect ourselves.