MY NAME IS DREA
Cancer doesn’t happen to someone like me – young, healthy, and happy. But it does, and it did. At the age of 25, during the first week of my Masters at the University of Toronto, I was diagnosed with sarcoma – an aggressive, malignant cancer of connective tissue.
I was given a 5-year survival rate of 5%.
We will most likely have to amputate your fingers. But I’m an artist, how can I continue to paint without my dominant hand? Removing my fingers was the solution to remove the cancerous tumour (sarcoma) that had grown between my index and middle fingers and was threatening to steal my life.
Three surgeries, six-weeks of radiation, metastasis to my lungs, and five-rounds of chemotherapy was my new priority. Surviving was going to need a miracle, losing my fingers and my ability to be creative was now a minor detail.
I beat the odds. I am alive. I am here, 19-years later. Not only that, my right hand is intact with all five digits. I am blessed to be here today and be able to use my hand to do what I love most - express myself creatively with oil paint.
I have been in the darkest of places, now I search for light, life, and moments that make me feel alive. I look to the grounding force of nature to reel me in, slow things down, and allow myself to get lost in the beauty of simple things.
Connecting this passion for nature with my need to be creative is what fulfills me. When I witness the beauty of sunlight hitting the petals of a flower, I am in awe. I feel alive. Refreshed. This vibrant energy in nature resonates within me, feeds my soul, and provides the inspiration to create art and share it with others in the hope they find their own meaning in it too.
Originally from Kingston, Ontario, I now reside in Calgary, Alberta, with my husband Jamie, two children, and two dogs. We spend as much time as possible in Hawaii!