Suzanne Zabawsky & Linda Ann Weber
“You Don't Define Me”
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The Story
Suzanne Zabawsky
Twist on Cancer: November 2019 rocked my world. I went to see my doctor thinking I did something to my back while exercising, only to find out the pain was caused by a tumor in my pancreas. I didn’t understand how something like this could happen to an extremely healthy person. I went from, “I have the perfect life” to “What will life be like with Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer?” It’s not about me. It’s about surviving for my adoring husband and two wonderful boys. They need me.

Everyone remarks on how strong I am. My strength comes from knowing our God is there for me, along with my dear family, friends and work acquaintances. I never asked “why me.” I only say “I’m not ready to leave.” I need to stick around this place to continue to raise my boys into adults and participate in what this world has to offer them.

My unknown future hangs over me like a deep fog. But isn’t that the case for all of us? Only God knows when each of us will be called to leave this Earth. Our character is defined by how we manage our challenges. I now try to let everyone I come in contact with know exactly how much they mean to me. This is something I should have been doing my entire life but have just realized how important it is. Because of God’s grace, I am a stronger and more appreciative person. Cancer has created a better and kinder human being in my soul.

I’ve learned that I’m loved and cared for by more people than I ever could have imagined. Each morning starts with me thanking God that I’ve been blessed with another new day, having air in my lungs and my senses to behold my family. Our God is stronger than cancer. Life is for living and I’m still here for a reason.

My partnering artist is Linda Ann Weber. Our friendship started in college and has continued over 40+ years. She’s always had a gift of looking into your eyes and seeing your soul. Our experiences have differed through the years, which has brought us closer to enjoying our times together.

I am forever grateful to be surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and an incredible church community. I could not get through this life exercise without them and our loving and gracious God.
Linda Ann Weber Instagram: @laweberartist
“You Don't Define Me”
Mixed Media with Acrylic
36 x 36 x 1.5
Artist Statement: Last December, I applied to participate in this amazing project with Brushes with Cancer. I thought I'd be partnered with a person I have never met before. Two weeks after I signed on, my friend from college informed me she was just diagnosed with cancer. I immediately reached out to the organization to see if we could be partnered together. In January, it was official. Suzanne and I were Brushes partners and we set out to share her story and journey through art.

Suzanne has always been a strong, positive, energetic, vibrant woman. The final art piece, You Don't Define Me, expresses all the things that are important to her and to her family. This past year, she faced many challenges in her battle with cancer. Even so, she is not letting this define her and more importantly, she hasn't allowed it to stop her from living and appreciating every moment of her life.

I expressed her journey through collage and graffiti art, using techniques that have become my signature style through my experience as a graphic artist. The tree is the focal point, which represents Suzanne's strength and dedication, rooted as the center of her family. The words and images give the viewer a window into her life and what is most important. This painting is a gift to her and her family. XO, Linda
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