“Cancer is a sickness of the body, not the soul or spirit” – Janice Tanton

An inspiring woman shares a piece of her journey as she juggles her diagnosis, treatment, and busy art career. Learn more about Janice on her blog, Janice Tanton: Full-time Human being (  


janice tanton2This has been a wild and wooly month. After being diag­nosed with
 breast can­cer just before Christ­mas, we’ve had a roller coaster of emo­tion and action in the house­hold, com­bin­ing doctor’s vis­its, show open­ings, Leighton Colony res­i­den­cies, tests and surgery. On Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 21st, just a week ago — I had a mod­i­fied rad­i­cal mas­tec­tomy to remove my right breast and the Level 1 and 2 lymph nodes under my right arm, which also showed metasta­tic breast can­cer. In a few weeks, I’ll have treat­ments to get on with, to heal and make myself well again. My goal is to return to my stu­dio at The Banff Cen­tre by Feb­ru­ary 4th, which is ambi­tious but attainable.

The same time I found out that I had breast can­cer, I was also sched­uled for a two month heav­enly res­i­dency at the Leighton Artist’s Colony at The Banff Cen­tre, in my favourite stu­dio — the Gerin-Lajoie. The project of this res­i­dency was to develop some major works out of my res­i­dency and time in Haida Gwaii. Time is a pinch point for me now…I also had my first solo pub­lic gallery exhi­bi­tion open­ing at Oko­toks Art Gallery!.…and another in Haida Gwaii at the end of February.

As the say­ing goes, “Something’s gotta give.” Blog updates have been the first thing to go through this crazy month…but today I’m back at the com­puter writ­ing, and play­ing “catchup” with all the news.…between healthy sleeps, heal­ing and pain medication.

janice tantonMy first pri­or­ity of course, was my health, fol­lowed by a quick deci­sion to get all of the work for the CAMP show down to Oko­toks. The staff at the gallery did an incred­i­ble job curat­ing and hang­ing the work, and none of it would have hap­pened with­out the sup­port of Kevin and our fam­ily. It was an exhil­a­rat­ing expe­ri­ence to see two year’s of research and work leave the stu­dio in Can­more and take a dif­fer­ent form in Okotoks.

What first appeared to me to be a mish-mash of thought and style emerged as a won­drous and ele­gant exhi­bi­tion in the hands of the cura­to­r­ial staff at the OAG. I’m very grate­ful for their care and under­stand­ing of the work and the dif­fi­cult time we were going through.  We were blessed that my adopted father, Elder Tom Crane Bear, opened the exhi­bi­tion with a smudge and prayer. I felt very loved and cared for in the midst of all the emo­tional and health tur­moil invad­ing my body. My fam­ily, friends and col­leagues are amaz­ing and deserve full credit for the suc­cess of this work. I’m so grate­ful to have such a sup­port­ive com­mu­nity. Sookapi!

The exhi­bi­tion hangs at the Oko­toks Art Gallery until Feb­ru­ary 23rd, so be sure to make a visit to see this cul­mi­na­tion of works, so rel­e­vant to our cur­rent times as we all strug­gle with the use of resources, tem­po­rary claim to land and space and cul­ture. Our Cana­dian iden­tity is becom­ing more defined as each day passes with the Idle No More Move­ment, and I’m so proud of my fam­ily in both cultures.

The show must go on, and we must dia­logue, work together with respect and find com­mon ground for success.

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