Fantasy Thrones

How does the nursery rhyme go? "What are little boys made of? Slugs and snails, And puppy-dogs' tails". There is a particular age in a young boy's life when anything related to "poop" and the latrine is a constant source of endless laughter and delight. And a mother will do anything to make her son laugh, even make up "fantastical thrones" for his amusement.

Although totally silly, some of these were created for a more serious purpose: as part of an example for a creativity exercise of my Fantasy Worlds Workshop, back in 2000.

The students were given the following exercise: choose an every day object, and extract the essential features of it (the original image of a toilet). Then, using the features found in other objects, scenes or critters, adapt the design to fit the style of the chosen variable.

The results are... well, you can see for yourself!

Various drawings, part of FantasyThrones.com, by Eni Oken.

Pen over paper.

©Copyright 2000 - 2012 Eni Oken

 

Beautiful Person

My best friend is one of the most beautiful people in the world. Not only is she beautifully gorgeous on the outside, but also the most generous, funny, caring, hard-working person you could ever imagine. And now she has found her prince charming, who is an equally wonderful person. I made this picture for her, wishing her everything a person could have in life. Makes you believe in fairy tales and dreams-come-true!

"Beautiful person" - Pen and mixed media over paper.

© Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

 

Reconstruct

Did you know that breast reconstruction plastic surgery due to cancer should be covered by insurance? In 1998 new federal law was signed as part of the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 which requires that most insurance plans that cover mastectomies, also cover breast reconstruction.

Under the WHCRA, mastectomy benefits must cover reconstruction of a removed breast, surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to make them look symmetrical, any external prostheses that are needed before or during reconstruction and any physical complications such as lymphedema (swelling of the area where lymph nodes were removed).
"Reconstruct" - Pen drawing & Mixed media
©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

 

What is not largely divulged is that some insurance companies will keep only a small roster of "in-network" plastic surgeons who specialize in reconstruction of the breast. By offering a small selection of these professionals, they guarantee to be in accordance with the law, but give no real alternatives to patients when selecting a doctor of their choice.
Reconstruction is not the same process as a breast augmentation. Many total mastectomies remove not only the nipple, but all the tissue, fat and glands found in the breast, forming an almost concave result and leaving deep scars. Typical reconstruction of the breast is made in several stages, which can involve multiple surgeries spaced out by recovery time.
Since most of the breast is removed during a total mastectomy, surgeons must opt for forming the shape of the new breasts with silicon or muscle and fat removed from a different area of the body. Further surgeries are required to form the nipple, correct symmetry, remove excessive scar tissue, etc.
In 2007, stem cell technology was used to develop a more natural breast growth procedure, and therefore healthier (although still expensive) alternative to silicon implants. The process involves removing fat taken by liposuction from other parts of the body, separating the stem cells and then injecting them back into the patient. The breasts then "grow back" after a period of 6 months.

I made it

Why is it that the lottery of life chooses one person over the next? Some go through years of painful medical treatment and miraculously make it for years, while others disappear and are taken so quickly. It's just SO RANDOM and so scary! I am constantly baffled. "Why did I make it and he didn't?" - Pen drawing over paper

King of the Streets

One of the many invisible sad horrors of living in the city are the homeless who roam endlessly. But do they? In a very busy corner of the city where I live there is one such man, who has created a little house of sorts with his shopping cart and cardboard boxes. He does not ask for money, he simply sits or lays there. I don't know what goes on through his mind! "King of the Streets" - Pen drawing over paper

© Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

House in the city

Life in the city has its ups and downs, pros and cons. You get the best culture life can offer, but you also get crowded areas, very little green and a lot of pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says there is a much higher risk of contracting lung cancer due to air pollution if living in certain highly urban areas (see http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/news/News/epa-estimates-cancer-risk-associated-with-air-pollution and http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/nata2002/risksum.html for maps showing areas of higher risk). However, all is not lost! Enormous strides are being made towards better standards of emissions and there is even a new discovered molecule called Criegee biradical or Criegee intermediate, which are powerful oxidizers of pollutants produced by combustion. These molecules not only have the ability to naturally cleaning the atmosphere, but they also form clouds as bi-product of their break-down process, helping to cool down the planet (http://www.gizmag.com/criegee-biradicals-potentially-offset-global-warming/21125/ and also Science magazine).

Also, we are just seeing the arrival of fully electric cars - dealers of CODA automotive are delivering their very first cars in Los Angeles now, March 2012. There is a bit of a race going on between EV (Electric Vehicle) manufacturers such as CODA and Tesla. Although their cars are priced slightly higher than average (mid-30 thousands and above), there are huge tax credits which can reduce the price by several thousand dollars, not including the gas savings.

Oh, by the way, did you notice something wrong with this image? ;-)

"House in the city" - Pen drawing

©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

Golden Sisters

A good support system (loved ones, family and friends) is 50% of the cure for any illness, not only cancer. I'm very happy and proud to have the "golden sisters" as part of my circle of dear, close friends -- I love you both so much! They took care of me almost as if I were a child. Thank you again and again and again for being there for me always. When a friend has cancer or other serious illness, we all get worried and want to help. Many people feel helpless and unsure of how to help a friend in need, to a point where they become completely frozen or disappear from the person's life. Here is an article I want to share with you, about how to support a friend who has cancer. Essentially, it offers ideas of what to say (and also what NOT to say); things you can do and how to pay proper attention.

When it comes to actions, try to focus on practical actions which can make the life of your friend easier, such as running errands for them, cleaning their house, sorting their mail, doing groceries, or driving them to doctor's appointment. If you can find a specific task that you can do, it's better to offer directly, instead of generalizations such as "call me if you need anything".
"Golden Sisters" - Pen and mixed media over paper
© Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

Wigged out

It's just unfair: why in the world would you force a cancer patient to worry about their appearance during a time when they are fighting just for the privilege to stay alive? And yet our entire society requires a person to appear in public with a hat, scarf or worse of all, wig. If you ever worn one of those, you KNOW: IT'S DARN UNCOMFORTABLE! And it doesn't change a thing: underneath, you are still bald.

"Wigged out" - Pen over paper

© Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

Taken too soon

On February 28, 2012, a friend succumbed to an extremely aggressive form of cancer, after battling a valiant fight. He had been diagnosed only a few months after I was.

"Taken too soon" - Pen drawing & mixed media
©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

 

Mastectomy

"Mastectomy" is the medical term for the surgical removal of either one or both breasts. It can be done partially or completely, removing or not the nipples too. Although it is most commonly done as a treatment for breast cancer, some women who might have a family history of breast cancer or a genetic disposition (carriers of BRCA gene, for example) choose to do it as a preventive measure. Celebrity Angelina Jolie did much to bring this subject to public awareness when she opted to do bilateral (both sides) mastectomy due to being carrier of the gene.

What is little known is that a person who has had complete mastectomy (including removal of nipples) due to cancer treatment does not become perfectly flat-chested. Depending on the person, the mastectomy in most cases forms a sort of  long scar on both sides of the chest, which can cause a deformation. This can minimized by plastic surgery, however, in this case, nipples are entirely removed and need to be reconstructed again or tatooed.

The Scar Project is a series of very strong and emotional portraits shot by photographer David Jay, showing young breast cancer survivors with their REAL SCARS.

When the surgery is elected as preventive measure (that is, the person does not have cancer, but yet a predisposition), then the nipples can be saved.

Read more about Mastectomy at Wikipedia.

"Mastectomy" - Pen over paper

© Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

 

 

Cyberport

One of the greatest inventions of medical technology is the "power port", also called the "portacath". This is a catheter that is implanted underneath the skin and connected to a main vein. This allows a cancer patient to be injected directly with drugs, instead of being poked with needles the MANY, MANY hundreds of times required during an extensive medical treatment. The advantage is that the patient can save their arm and hand veins, which can collapse under so many injections. To "install" one of these ports the patient undergoes is a small surgical procedure. The newer ports are placed under the skin, so they are not grossly visible from the outside, and this also prevents the catheter port from bringing infection. There is only a small cut (about 1.5 inches) and a bulk under the skin. It is usually placed on the chest just under the clavicle, but I choose to make a loose interpretation in this drawing showing the port straight through the person's chest.

Having one of those makes one reach out to dark humor: now we are really cybernetic robots! Hey, we can even have our own USB ports.

After treatment is entirely completed and there is no need for the port, it can be removed, leaving a small scar, which reminds  me of some kind of macabre medal pinned to the chest.

Just one of the many discomforts a cancer patient goes through that very few people know about. Now you know!

"Cyber

Dancing with an Angel

He has his own inner light -- when he walks in the room, everything seems to become brighter and happier (even when he is covered in dirt from school). He is the light of many lives. His name means "the bringer of light". We dance.

"Dancing with an angel" - Pen drawing & mixed media
©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

In the Sun

Sometimes we don't take the time to appreciate the simplest of pleasures, so readily available and for free. A beautiful sunny day in the middle of winter. What could be more wonderful? "In the Sun" - Pen over paper

© Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

Gossip

The internet is a beautiful thing, but it can also be a weapon of destruction, if used poorly. Don't believe everything you read online! Don't assume you know the motives or the WHOLE picture about a person just from what you read online. Many evil people have discovered a new form of destruction: online gossip. It can tear a person to pieces, and leave scars for years to come. Remember there is a REAL person at the receiving end of every email, at the end of every Facebook comment.

"Gossip" - Pen over paper

© Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

Hot Flashes

I bet you didn't know this, unless you've gone through it: one of the many issues women treating for cancer deal with is the possibility of premature menopause. This is caused by a number of factors (type of cancer, age, aggressive chemotherapy, genetic disposition, surgery, etc). So on top of having to deal with grueling treatment against cancer, some women face hot flashes, mood swings, emotional turmoil, night sweats, insomnia, all side effects she wouldn't have to deal with for another 10 or 20 years.

Women can have 10 to 20 hot flashes per day, alternated by extreme bouts of cold and shivering. It's as if her inner thermostat were broken or faulty. Did you know that hot flashes can be triggered by upset THOUGHTS (even if you maintain a controlled demeanor)?

Yep -- the poker face doesn't trick your body!

"Hot flashes" - Mixed media & pen drawing
©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

Shielded

There are few things that feel better than feeling shielded and protected by someone you love, especially when you are going through times of trouble. This is my "Valentines-thankyouforbeingthere-youareamazing" picture to someone who was there for me through thick and thin.

"Shielded" - Pen drawing & mixed media
©Copyright Eni Oken

Smoked

It's unbelievable: cigarettes are responsible for more deaths than alcohol, car accidents, AIDS, homicide and illegal drug use combined.

"Smoked" - Pen drawing and mixed media
©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

Helping hands

When you least expect it, and from the most unexpected sources, helping hands come to pick you up. You know who you are! In my opinion, friends and family are 50% of the cure.

Lotsahelpinghands.com is a very useful website which allows friends and loved ones to coordinate their efforts to help the ill. It takes a village to take care of a sick person, and my village was there for me.

"Helping hands" - Mixed media & pen drawing
©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

Cut off

A bald shiny egg-head is breast cancer's trademark look. It's caused by chemotherapy -- the drugs are so strong that they literally kill the hair follicles. The hair starts falling approximately 17 to 25 days after the first chemo session and is a painful process: it falls off in clumps, and the scalp hurts like hell, tender to the touch. It is recommended to cut the hair really short before it starts falling, to minimize the pain. Did you know that not all cancer patients become bald? Interesting that the chemo drugs used for treating breast cancer cause baldness with certainty. Chemo drugs used to treat other types of cancer might cause hair thinning, but not necessarily baldness.

"Cut off" - Pen drawing and mixed media
©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken

Oh, Brave Oncologist

Oh Brave Oncologist, you who take care of the sick and protect us against our fears... I am so blessed to have the most fantastic and caring oncologist. This is a doctor that will be forever in my life. We joke around and kid with each other: "You NUKED IT!" -- "No, YOU nuked it!", she kindly replies. Either way, it's nuked, which is nothing short of a miracle, stage 4. Sheeeeesh. "Oh Brave Oncologist" - Pen drawing & mixed media

©Copyright 2012 Eni Oken