Boy, ya never know what's around the corner. A few weeks ago, I received a few notifications all at once from a woman named Jennifer, who said she was interested in buying a huge amount of my art on behalf of a pharmaceutical company, who would then like to exhbit said art in New Orleans in December at the National Hematology Convention, with me in attendance.
My knee-jerk reaction was that she was an art scammer, as these diabolical people often approach you by name and even know the names of your artworks. But then it hit me--how would a scammer also know that I had a serious blood clotting disorder?
It turns out Jennifer was real, and there was even more to the story. The company, Incyte, also wanted me to attend a breakfast in Times Square on Sept. 3, where I would be part of the ringing the NASDAQ bell to kick off Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Not only did they buy two of my prints to exhibit at the breakfast that morning (at the Intercontinental Hotel, no less), but they also sent a car to drive me to and from the event!
And to put the cherry on top, for a few brief seconds, my smiling mug loomed over Times Square on the NASDAQ jumbotron during a series of photos taken during the ceremony just moments prior. Everything about that morning defined the very essence of the word delightful.
But I'd be lying if I said I also didn't feel a slight discomfort about it all, as the bottom-line reason for my involvement was because of my illness, thus making it a bit more real to me than it already is. Believe me...this pain is real, as I live with it every second of every day, but there's also a small part of me that lives in denial that I'm a sick person. I'm not quite sure what I mean by that, as this pain rules just about every aspect of my life, and I've been quite open about it, both in my art and in my writing. I guess it's just hard to admit that it's now become woven into the very fabric of who I am, which on the one hand is a good thing, as it means I've accepted it, but it also brings up the latent anger that's always just beneath the surface, as it's something that has been thrust upon me. I did not choose to get sick or to be chronically in pain, nor would I ever have wanted this to be the way that my work would gain any kind of attention.
When I saw my face up there on the NASDAQ jumbotron, it was certainly a wonderful kick, but it could not have been any bigger of a reminder of the enormous role this illness now plays in my life. It has become part of my identity, as proven by my looming presence over Times Square for those few moments on Sept. 3.
While standing there, I couldn't quite understand why I was feeling tears well up in my eyes, but now I know. This illness is real, and it's a permanent part of me now. God willing, the upcoming Oct. 2 surgery on my jaw will help ease this terrible pain, if not rid me of it entirely, as it's been with me for over ten years now. A decade is a big chunk of a person's life. While I'm thrilled to be a part of this whole New Orleans extravaganza, how much MORE wonderful it would be if I attended it pain-free. Should that come to pass, I do believe my smile could once again light up Times Square, only this time without the use of a jumbotron.