Painting at Elmbrook Memorial has special meaning for artist
Weichelt works on piece while fighting breast cancer
As an artist, Jen Weichelt gets to share her talents with others quite often.
She's done hundreds of pieces and projects, and each has its own meaning. But none, she said, has more meaning than the painting hanging at the Wheaton Franciscan-Elmbrook Memorial Cancer Center.
It's the place where Weichelt had some of her darkest days.
But it's also where she has had some of her biggest triumphs.
The Brookfield resident, who is a co-owner of Trillium Crafted Surfaces - a full-service painting company that specializes in custom artwork, decorative painting, murals, interior design and color consulting - was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in December, 2011.
Weichelt was stunned. At 41, and with no family history of breast cancer, she couldn't believe the news. The timing, though, was not all that bad, Weichelt said.
"In a lot of ways it was a blessing, being surrounded by family," Weichelt said. "It was the most meaningful Christmas I ever had. It's the most life-altering thing I've been through."
She had a mastectomy in January to remove her left breast. She then underwent chemotherapy and radiation. At times, she said, she felt like she was losing her femininity.
Through it all, she kept painting.
Two months before her diagnosis, Weichelt had made a commitment to the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse in Milwaukee to paint a piece for their exhibition.
At the time, she had no idea how personal that painting would become.
For the piece, she talked with individuals who are breast cancer survivors and they provided her with a statement about breast cancer's impact. She documented those sayings in the painting.
After the show was over, she wanted to use it as an inspirational piece for others at the Cancer Center.
"I just felt like this can encourage others," Weichelt said. "My spiritual life has changed so much. I've always been a believer, but through this, I've really grown in my faith. I felt God was guiding me. So I just felt that is where it should be."
Prognosis is good
Weichelt has finished chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and she's been told there is a less than 10 percent chance the cancer will return.
She has since become an advocate for breast cancer awareness and early detection, and hopes her painting helps others overcome the struggles of fighting the disease.
"Here I am going through chemo and being bald and working on this piece. It was a struggle, but a good struggle," she said.
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