Hi, I'm Dena! An otherwise healthy, dynamic freelance creative, advocate and young professional, carving her path in these often chaotic times. This journey began suddenly for me with the diagnosis of an ovarian tumor (Dysgerminoma) Jan. 2018, at the age of 30. Shortly after discovery, surgery to remove the large tumor, my left ovary and corresponding fallopian tube was underway. I abruptly took leave from my recently promoted role in my favorite city, San Francisco. And all creative projects, travel and life plans came to a screeching halt. While awaiting biopsy pathology results post-op and amidst the grim reality of chemotherapy, I quickly learned that: knowledge is my weapon of choice and not all resources are created equal. In self-reflection I recognized my longing to create things, any thing, to stay busy throughout otherwise very long days and restless nights.
I noticed a pattern, I'd spent every night before surgery, outpatient procedures or big treatment days full of anxiety and restlessness in front of the computer that I neglected during every work day, passing the time and easing my nerves by creating digital collages, editing images or hand beading and weaving macrame again. All works I'd refined over the years but often neglected due to the demands of modern life. In sharing my journey, I started to recognize myself as an empath, understanding fully that I feel things deeply. And as an artist I'm learning it's what I do best. In the beginning, not knowing where to provide personal updates to friends and family I began like most do with Facebook. And what an outpouring of love I received! I was astounded to learn just how many others' were affected by cancer, too. I sat for hours researching, visiting with relatives, hand picking information they personally used for their own treatments and even flipping through cookbooks tailored to the effects of chemotherapy on the senses. Friends and family offered to cook, provided heart warming emotional support, volunteering rides to appointments and their own tailored remedies for their mothers, sisters and friends' battle with cancer. What a blessing it is to have such a strong village of support behind you! And inversely, what a harsh path this would be if I didn't have my tribe, my people. I thought about those who don't have the luxury of finding early stage, treatable cancer. Though my tumor was large, 18-cm to be exact, luckily it was not considered invasive like most. Everyone I spoke with medically has had such a wealth of resources to provide by word of mouth with little to no reference to literature or web presence. I saw a need to compile and share this information almost immediately, keeping in mind others who have limited access on their own journeys. Then came the medical bills, almost endlessly. A bigger, better and more informed space to compile my journey and resources seemed only natural for all to access. With what started as a blog for personal medical updates quickly turned into a forum to also create art for as a platform for fundraising, to pass the time in a meaningful way and to remain focused on my darkest days.
The crafts I create are a true labor of love and while my mediums to create with are vast to some, I wanted to be able to share my passions entirely for my own cause. To be able to offer what I love and share my journey with others has been truly something so special to me. This journey has been all but easy thus far, life as I knew it may never be the same but this chapter already feels so much bigger than just me.
All funds received from donation or from the shop will go directly to support the financial hardship of treating cancer, coping with adverse effects of chemotherapy and rehabilitation. As this movement continues to grow beyond my own immediate needs, I will push the movement forward and dedicate portions of funds raised to other, various women's cancer centers and causes locally that have supported me and align with my vision of empowerment through education,
community and holistic support.
FOR DENA's RECENT WORKS AND PORTFOLIO, CHECK HER OUT HERE!