Here’s a Concept to Consider: Cancer as an Amplifier

54eb4de82a712_-_artful-approach-family-0311-xlAs an interior decorator, I subscribe to a lot of shelter magazines. One of my favorites and the one I’ve subscribed to the longest (it’s been a few decades) is Country Living magazine. In the March 2011 issue, I came across an article about painter Kolene Spicher, who has a husband, three sons, a successful business and ovarian cancer.

The Spicher home is a beautiful symphony of collectibles, family heirlooms, and handmade pieces. Kolene spends most of her time painting in her home studio, which looks out on the Susquehanna River Valley in Pennsylvania. Although her business produces art for catalogs like Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs, she simplifies her days so as not to exhaust herself. She credits her illness, which she’s had for most of her adult life, with amplifying “her desire to surround herself with beauty, in her work and in her home.”

As I read an article I thought was just about another well decorated house, I was surprised to feel Kolene’s story resonate with my own. Ovarian cancer has obviously affected her in limiting ways – affecting her ability to travel and live a healthy, disease-free life. Yet, she also credits it with real positives. As she states in the magazine article, “It really is the simple things-roasting marshmallows with the kids, watching TV with Mark-that bring me happiness.”

I don’t know Kolene and I don’t know what it’s like to have ovarian cancer, but I related to her obvious appreciation of her cancer gifts. I don’t think for a second that positive thinking alone gets you through cancer. But I do know that my emotional health took an immediate upswing the minute I realized it wasn’t all about the losses. I guess it’s about finding balance when you’re on very shaky ground.

Survival > Existence,


Image courtesy Country Living


Linda's picture

Focus & Context

It sounds as though cancer was not the focus of the article but strongly influenced where Kolene is now and therefore the context of her life and her business that was its focus. I guess nothing exists in a vacuum, which I also guess is the point of WWGN. Thanks for posting this article and your perspective on it.

Plano & Simple
coach and ‘yenta’ for entrepreneurs

Debbie's picture

That’s Exactly the Point

You’re exactly right.  Ironically though, when cancer hits, you do feel like you exist in a vacuum.  Your entire world becomes your disease and everything you do, every moment of your day, is consumed by the monster that now lives with you.  The beauty of time, and a lot of support, is that, eventually, if you’re very lucky, you start to gain perspective and regain your balance.

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