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Design Spotlight: Corrie Kuipers

October 4, 2011

Hope y’all don’t mind – in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I’d turn the Design Spotlight on CorrieWeb. Here we go!

(P.S. – On her Hope for Cancer blog today, Rycky Creations is hosting an interview with GCU artist Barbara Schreiber about her battle with breast cancer. Don’t forget to stop by and read this incredible story.

_________________________

Cancer sucks.

I’m very aware that cancer runs in my family: my grandmother, my mother, my father, and my brother all died of cancer.

When I was six years old (1967), I watched my grandmother die a slow, agonizing death from breast cancer. In those days, cancer was a death sentence. Treatment was brutal – mastectomy and radiation, but not as refined as these days. Had doctors detected her cancer earlier… but in those days, by the time they found her cancer, it had already spread. She died at the age of 67. Today, she’d have had a better chance at survival.

My father, a heavy smoker, was diagnosed with bladder cancer at age 61 (in the 1980s). His cancer was so¬†aggressive, his bladder was removed, and even a heavy dose of radiation couldn’t kill it all. It spread to his colon. He ended up with two colostomy bags, but no remission. He died at age 63. I felt so helpless watching his pain every day, knowing I could do nothing to help him. In this country, he got to take Tylenol – no other pain relief was available.

In 2003, after the holidays, my mother began complaining about having vague pains, a general “not good” feeling. The doctor did some tests. They found something on her pancreas, but it wasn’t clear. More tests at a different hospital said she had an enlarged vein on her pancreas with a weakness that leaked blood, but nothing serious. She wasn’t told she had a cancerous tumor on her pancreas. She received pain killers, they sent her home, and she kept living her life as normal until the morning my sister went over to her apartment, and found her collapsed, unconscious. She was taken to hospital, but nothing could be done. An operation revealed her body was riddled with cancer. She died that night.

My brother Flip got cancer for the second time in 2008. He had previously had cancer in his kidney about five years after my father died. Then, we all urged him to go. and have himself checked out since he didn’t feel good. and had lost a dramatic amount of weight. It turned out to be a tumor in his kidney. They removed the kidney, but no other treatment was necessary since the cancer hadn’t spread.

He continued regular check-ups, and remained healthy until 2008, when one of his check-ups revealed small tumors in his lymph nodes and other places like his intestines, liver, etc. He ultimately died of liver cancer at age 63 after aggressive chemotherapy, and all the modern treatments available. With Flip, I could clearly chart his progress, and witnessed the strange, often devastating effects of chemo on his body.

My niece is currently battling breast cancer. I hope she succeeds. For now, it looks good.

Cancer runs like a red thread through the history of my family, popping up every decade or so to take someone beloved away from us. The cause of finding a cure is very close to me.

When my partner Nene suggested we create greeting cards to support cancer patients, I was all for it.

I wish everyone fighting cancer lots of strength, lots of hope, my warmest wishes, and plenty of encouragement.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2011 8:50 am

    Yes Corrie,
    I know the feeling. I was diagnosed with breast cancer about eight years ago.It showed up on the regular breast screening we can have here in OZ (free).
    Fortunately it was very small, and I had a sentinal node proceedure , where they inject radioactive solution around the tumor, then they only remove the glands it drains to, saving me from having all the glands out under my arm, which can cause oedema of the arm.I had a lumpectomy,and radiation, which I didn’t find too bad at all, just like a bad dose of sunburn!
    So far so good …I hardly even think about it at all, except when I go for my yearly mamogram.( my surgeon tells me that a mamogram is the best form of detection..I agree, as they couldn’t find mine with ultrasound for the initial biopsy.
    Hope you are in the generation that misses out on the big C.( a bit of an old wives tale that one I think!) My family is creeping with various forms of cancer, so ithink there is definately some genetic link.
    The worst part is the initial diagnosis, after that I felt much better, once the wheels were in motion, to get rid of it!

  2. barbara schreiber permalink
    October 4, 2011 9:16 am

    Hi Corrie,
    It’s bad, isn’t it. Sorry about your family. Sorry about your brother. My grandparents and parents also died of cancer (my mother was 54). Runs in my family also. I am very glad about new therapies and medications. But nevertheless, I find it so awful when young people or children get it, although they often have a very good survival rate!
    Sending warm wishes for health your way.
    barbara

  3. October 4, 2011 9:24 am

    Quiet heroism is everywhere if you look. Thank you for sharing your family’s story.

    Regards,

    Rosanne

    • October 5, 2011 12:07 am

      Quiet heroism, could not have said it better myself.. I lost my grandmother many years ago to cancer and just lost my sister in 2010. God bless.

  4. Christi permalink
    October 4, 2011 10:59 am

    Hi, Corrie,

    Parents, aunts, brother, sister-in-law, and currently my best friend’s partner. Lost my parents, others made it through – so far, at least. I’m amazed at how upbeat you can still be!

    take care,
    Christi

  5. October 4, 2011 11:16 am

    Oh that was so heartfelt and painful, it definitely brought a tear, I have had two Aunts with Cancer, my favorite who was like my nana had breast cancer I was 8 when she died but the Cancer did not beet her, she had her breast removed and lived to 75 that was good for back then, then my Aunt five years ago had bowel cancer but she’s been in remission for 5 years and seems to be doing very well, although she had a colostomy, she copes she even named it George. The hubbies mum also had a breast removed she has a weird sence of humour about her false one, leaving it in strange places :P and naughty things like that, she came through good that was 15 years ago, she once droped it in the garden while gardening, infront of 4 neighbours, she found it hillarious especially as they were blushing.
    I had a big scare 15 years ago where a big part of my breast was removed (from the bottom the size of a mans fist) that was terrifying enough without anything else.
    Your family have had a rough time and I can see why your cards are so wonderful and from the heart, it shows in each of them, you make people smile so much with them, I am so sure they are a comfort, knowing people are now there in the open helping and encouraging.
    We can only hope and pray as each day passes more to help those with Cancer and to find a cure, we hear so much about it now, it’s out in the open which is good, years ago it was hush hush and a bad word to utter.

  6. Rycky Creations permalink
    October 4, 2011 11:18 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, Corrie. These days it seems that cancer touches all of us in some way or another. I haven’t personally battled cancer, but it runs in my family as well … mother, father, several aunts and cousins. Not to mention a very special young friend whose battle with a brain tumor has been a big inspiration and motivation for creating cancer cards. How incredible that your father was only able to take Tylenol for his pain! That must have been so difficult to watch! I’m very thankful for all the medical advances and pray that one day they will find a cure!

    Robin

  7. October 4, 2011 1:24 pm

    Very touching and so sad. My dad had colon cancer luckily they caught it in time. So far knock on wood he’s still doing well. My mom-in-law has had several bouts of it. Now, at 90 she seems to be defying it. Seems to run on my husbands Mom’s side. We’re hoping my husband’s generation skips it.

    I’m so glad that modern medicine has advanced from the old days when they just butchered you. However there is still so much more R&D needed to combat this horrible scary disease.

    Corrie, your cancer cards are amazing probably because they come directly from your heart.

  8. October 4, 2011 2:35 pm

    Wow Corrie, too much for one family to endure. What a gift you and Nene give back through your Cancer Card Collection, they touch so many lives with tragic stories just like yours. May your strength continue to prevail.

  9. October 4, 2011 2:40 pm

    Very poignant spotlight, Corrie. Your cards are eloquent and filled with the kind of humor that really touches people. And what you and Robin and others are doing by giving so much of yourselves to help other folks in dealing with cancer is extraordinary, beautiful, and very kind.

    Thank you,
    Cindy

  10. Penny permalink
    October 4, 2011 3:13 pm

    Corrie, thank you for sharing your family’s amazing and courageous story! I’ve always felt that you must have personal inspiration for your cancer care cards, as they are so heartfelt and authentic. What a blessing and comfort those cards must be to those who are suffering and the people who love them.

    Penny :)

  11. October 4, 2011 3:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story, Corrie. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched (more like brutally bashed) by cancer in some way. Your gorgeous cards are really sweet.

  12. Gail Pepin permalink
    October 4, 2011 5:51 pm

    Very touching story. It makes me thankful for my life and very sorry for others suffering with cancer. It truly is an evil disease. Thanks for sharing, Corrie. God bless you and your family.
    Gail.

  13. October 4, 2011 5:55 pm

    Corrie, I have never known a family with cancer so abundant. You are very courageous to face everyday after all you have experienced.Thank you for your touching story and your ability to create for others facing the battle with cancer.

  14. October 4, 2011 7:08 pm

    Corrie, Thank you so much for sharing your story. Like so many others, cancer seems to run rampant in our family. When it strikes a new member and they survive it, we are more incredulous I think than we are devastated at the losses. It has just become so prevalent among us. We just lost my 64 year old cousin a few days ago, 11 months after his diagnosis. Currently my cancer prayer list includes 14 of those close to me; may we all pray for all those whose lives are touched by the dread disease. I pray too, that those involved in research and those supporting research may be blessed with success in their efforts. We are most thankful for a supportive community, committed researchers and dedicated and skilled medical professionals who do their best to help us beat this battle. Thank you too, Corrie and other artists and friends who support our cause and lift us up!

  15. October 4, 2011 7:40 pm

    Thank you Corrie for sharing your family’s story with us. That is shocking so many of your family members were struck with cancer… (((HUGS))). My prayers are go out for anyone dealing with this disease. I lost my brother to Colon Cancer, he was only 29 years old.
    Your cards are lovely and a wonderful way to support the cause.
    Janet Lee

  16. October 4, 2011 8:52 pm

    Dear Corrie, I don’t know anyone who has not been cruelly touched by a battle with cancer whether personal or watching a friend or family member suffer but you have been dealt more than your share of loss and grief. My heartfelt sympathies to you and your family. You said you felt so helpless watching your Dad’s pain every day, knowing you could do nothing to help him…. I am sure you did plenty to help – just by seeing you would have brought him comfort. And if (no ifs about it) your Dad, Mom, Grandmother and Brother are watching over you know, they are surely very proud of you and your generous heart. Your courage speaks volumes. Wishing all the best to your niece, may she win her battle with cancer and for others fighting this dreaded disease, may cancer become extinct. May you and Nene live long, healthy and happy lives. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Hugs, Lisa

  17. October 5, 2011 12:13 pm

    Dear Corrie,

    Your ability to transform the pain you have witnessed since you were the age of six into Hope, Courage, Faith, Love through your art is inspirational and humbling.

    Gratitude for your loving partnership with Nene, and the loving, strength that guides you daily to carry on with messages of Hope.

    Healing thoughts for a swift and full recovery to your niece and all who are suffering from cancer.

    May we witness in our lifetime the shift that transforms all this research into a cure.

    Good Health, Light and Love to all,
    Sri

  18. October 6, 2011 3:42 am

    I absolutely agree with you Corrie that Cancer does suck! I am sorry to hear about your family members battle with cancer, as well as the others who have shared their stories here. Sadly it seems that many of us are touched by cancer in one way or another. I lost my Dad and Brother to Leukemia and Lymphoma. It was extremely hard on me to see them go through those diseases. Other family members have battled the beast and won! I pray they will find a cure and I encourage anyone who needs this, to never give up Hope…it is the best medicine of all!

    Blessings of good health to everyone.
    Sher

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