Emerson deCordova and Callie Cullinan
The Story
Emerson deCordova
Chicago, IL
Survivor and Previvor
Twist on Cancer: Living as a young adult who's survived two separate cancers and also has a genetic predisposition to more cancers can be difficult. Sometimes it can feel paralyzing to know that, at any moment, my life may be interrupted by some new diagnosis. I was diagnosed with my first cancer and my genetic condition at 19, and it became so difficult to plan for my future like a normal young adult would because I knew that I may always deal with new cancer diagnoses. Eventually, I learned that it was crucial to keep moving forward, despite the obstacles that may arise for me. People tell me that I’m brave for beating these cancers, but I think the bravest thing I’ve done is the work I’ve done toward building a future for myself despite the constant uncertainty I grapple with. Learning to keep my stride and momentum in life, even while dealing with medical anxieties, has brought me so much fulfillment and joy. I’m 27 now, I’ve finished college and I have a career that I’m proud of. I feel confident that no matter what obstacle may come my way I can find the strength to steady myself so I can keep moving forward.
Headshot of Inspiration Callie Cullinan
Callie Cullinan
Columbus, OH
Social Media: @callie9467
“More Than”
Mixed Media
3 canvas - 12” x 24” each
Artist Statement: Throughout our time connecting, there are many moments listening to Emerson share their story that stand out in my mind. Moments in which Emerson’s words, outlook on life, humor, and genuineness truly resonated with me as a cancer survivor and inspired me as an artist. I chose the title “more than” based on a statement that Emerson made about being “more than” everything they have experienced. As cancer survivors, we are so much more than our diagnosis. Emerson is so many wonderful things, including an advocate for at-risk youth, mentor to young cancer survivors, and wonderful friend and family member. The three canvases of this piece aim to highlight that their cancer diagnosis is just one part of who Emerson is as a human. The contrast between the steep, rough mountains and delicate, layered flowers emphasize Emerson’s strength in spite of their cancer diagnosis and treatment. I am truly grateful to have been matched with Emerson and feel honored to be able to visually represent their journey.