Every quarter we feature a new artist and "thriver"! Help support our cause and our featured artists by purchasing our limited edition accessories and apparel!
"I was scootering through the mountains of Taiwan, drinking bubble tea and teaching art to preschoolers when I heard the words that no one ever wants to hear: you have cancer. Within moments, my life shifted from beach parties, waterfall chasing, and island hopping to fertility appointments, surgeries, and chemo. It seemed as if my carefree life had been shattered and there was no way to pick up the pieces.
Following my diagnosis in Taiwan, I packed my bags and moved back to the states for treatment. There, I began painting. Amidst the brokenness that cancer had caused, I found myself more whole every time I picked up a paintbrush.
Maybe cancer had shattered me, but the combination of my faith and my art was powerful. I realized that there was no way to re-experience life before cancer; I couldn’t un-know the devastation of my diagnosis and I couldn’t put the pieces of my life together exactly as they had been before. However, during this painful season, I discovered something truly beautiful: my artwork had the power to create a sense of community among young cancer survivors.
Cancer took a lot from me, and I will never be thankful for that. However, the unexpected impact of my art continues to astound me. My donation-based shop–10x10 Gallery–has been welcomed with open arms not only by the online cancer community, but also my local community in Madison, Wisconsin. Because of this support, 10x10 has been able to donate thousands of dollars to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The experience of creating art and sharing stories has been humbling to say the least. I am so grateful for the personal growth I have encountered through this journey, and I look forward to continuing 10x10’s artistic endeavor for years to come."
"I’m a cancer-thriver with a heart full of messy art. I truly believe if you can hold love in your heart, in your body, and in your soul, you can pretty much accomplish anything with gratitude, grace, and with an ease you would not have believed possible.
Cancer ultimately taught me the first step on the path to stillness. On stopping long enough to rest, reflect, and replenish a well I didn’t even realize was almost bone dry. Cancer, at the time, gave me permission to put on the brakes in a life that was not by my design, at a time when things were really starting to “look up” and happen for me.
Throughout my illness, I made it a point to remain positive, to stay active, and to make sure my morning writing time was sacred. I focused on myself and my interior life during this time - what moved me, what made me feel yucky, what my truths truly were. I started writing more and more. I started tuning in to listen and learn what things really mattered to me.
And I started painting again.
One of the reasons I stopped painting before was because I could never get it “just right”. It was a huge source of frustration for me - a self-diagnosed perfectionist. This time, however, I picked up a brush and just let things happen.
I still had moments of “Oh God, this is horrible!” But I kept going. And there was still a part of me that was trying to get it “right”. But then one day, I heard something that spun everything around for me: There are no mistakes in art. And another whisper in my ear: "Follow your intuition, even when it doesn’t make sense."
The very day I heard these things, I went out and bought some giant canvases - so giant, I had to borrow a friend’s truck to get them home!
I’ve been using my intuition and my dreams to paint ever since.
Now, I have a bone-deep knowing that the gawky awkward stage of a painting happens in perfect time. Now I know in my heart that art - whether painting, writing, or something else - is a metaphor for life. When you start, you may not have a clear idea of where you are headed, but you just start. And in art, just like life, there will come a point where things get sideways, or a little dark, or murky, or even ugly.
If you keep following your intuition, if you keep doing the next step in front of you, if you keep putting that next splash of color on the canvas, you’ll eventually get somewhere you want to be."
Cami Miller’s breast cancer diagnosis in late 2018 made her decide to change her life’s course and go back to her true passion: painting. She made it her mission to build a life she loved, one painting at a time. She is now a full-time working artist and facilitator and has expanded her mission to include empowering others to find what makes their soul dance and help them do more of it, every day.