Scarred, Scared, Sacred

CURESummer 2011
Volume 10
Issue 2

A patient uses art to deal with physical and emotional scars caused by cancer.

In 2005, it had been about 20 years since Diane Hosey, then 31, had undergone treatment for stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer, a diagnosis that was supposed to be terminal. At 49, she realized that, despite telling and retelling her story, she still felt that her internal self and her external, scarred self weren’t connected. She had yet to feel truly healed. “It seemed interesting and ironic and a little sad that I was that far down the road and didn’t feel that,” says the Dallas businesswoman.

A new relationship, in which she wanted to be her “authentic” self, prompted Hosey to search for an integration of the selves. But after two decades, she needed a new perspective to explore those buried feelings, and as a performance artist she knew the power of creative energy. Rather than try to express it herself, she turned to Karen Blessen, a Pulitzer Prize—winning artist, asking that she interpret Hosey’s experience through art in hopes it would help her reintegrate her fractured selves.

Blessen agreed not only because Hosey was a friend but also because she was coping with a number of friends dealing with a similar diagnosis.

Through discussion, photos, Hosey’s journals and talismans from that time of her diagnosis and treatment, Blessen created a collage about Hosey’s journey and chronicled her experience, along with those of other breast cancer survivors, in “Cancer’s Scars,” which was published in The Dallas Morning News in February 2008.

Hosey says the art helped her pull the disparate pieces of the experience together in a rich metaphor. Here she could bring together her scarred body and her scared inner self, connecting to her sacred self. To read Blessen’s original story, visit