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My Son’s Brain Cancer Journey is behind my Colourful Happy Art

Posted by Lisa Judd on

In July 2011 my son James was about to turn 21 but he never made it to his carefully planned 21st Birthday Party because just days before, he was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with a terminal stage IV brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforme. 

As a Mother, I am supposed to ‘fix things’ for my children but I could not do anything but love and support my son through his cancer journey to the best of my ability and try to hold it together. To make it all worse, James lives in Brisbane and I live in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney so I told my husband (James's Stepdad) I would be staying with James in Brisbane as long as he needed me.

It was a nightmare watching James go through two brain surgeries within two weeks to remove the 8.6cm tumor and then endure daily treatments of intense radiation followed by several chemotherapy rounds.  When James was well enough to leave hospital he and I went to stay with a family friend who was kind enough to give us a place to stay for months.

Painting and Drawing is my passion, but during this horrible time in my son's life, my life and my families life, I stared blankly at a white canvas for weeks on end. I had never felt so much pain and helplessness before and the world turned black and white for quite a while.

Then, to help myself cope, I forced myself to paint something, anything.  What I painted during those first terrible months during James's treatment and recovery was sunny yellow Sunflowers.  

I didn't know it at the time, but this Sunflower painting, which I donated to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane where it still hangs on their Neurological Ward wall, was the beginning of a new journey in my arty life. 

I became 'obsessed' with my painting and drawing. I painted every day, sometimes all day and often way into the early morning hours too. It as a coping mechanism during the darkest days of my life so far and it was also the birth of a joyful new business.

My motivation with my art has always been to bring joy to myself and others and now I have a Gift and Home-ware product range that brings joy into everyday life in practical ways.

One of the many drawings I created while supporting my son in Brisbane was a whimsical little Angel holding a big red heart.  I named her Angel Heart and she was one of the very first designs I used in tart product business I run today.

Angel Heart (as a Wearable Art Pendant and a Plush Cushion Cover) seems to resonate with many people who are going through their own very tough times such as cancer or illness, or they are supporting and caring for someone they love like I was.

According to the Australian Brain Cancer Foundation Brain cancer kills more children than any other disease in Australia and more young people under 40 in Australia than any other cancer.

Although our family is very aware that James’s cancer journey is still ongoing and life threatening I am overjoyed to say that he is in long term remission, despite every Doctor telling us that he would not live past 2011.  It is a true blessing because James's type of brain cancer is very aggressive. Many other people are not so fortunate.

Lisa is Managing Director of  Her Angel Heart design is available for sale as a unique handmade Pendant Necklace and as a Plush soft Cushion Cover.  

10% of Every Angel Heart Product that is sold at is donated to Australia's Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

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