Derbyshire cancer survivor Karen puts her art on display to inspire others

A Derbyshire woman who underwent life-saving surgery after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer is launching a book of prints and poetry she created while recovering from her ordeal.

Karen Clegg, from Breaston, has produced a book of art and poetry which she created while she was recovering from aggressive ovarian cancer. Penguin PR: public relations, media and communications

Karen Clegg, 53, from Breaston, is launching the collection, called Moments, at QUAD on May 17, when she will also be exhibiting a selection of her pictures.

The event is being held to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which starts on May 14, and is being held in conjunction with the mental health charity Derbyshire Mind.

The tie-in has been organised because Karen, who is donating the proceeds from the book to the charity, hopes to use her experience to encourage people with mental health issues to explore taking up a new activity or hobby.

This is because she realises how, looking back, being able to express herself through art and poetry helped her to come to terms with the stress and anxiety she was experiencing during her treatment and recovery.

One of the pieces of art made by Karen Clegg, from Breaston, who has produced a book of art and poetry which she created while she was recovering from aggressive ovarian cancer. Penguin PR: public relations, media and communications

Karen was diagnosed with aggressive Stage 3 C ovarian cancer in October 2016 after visiting her doctor because she was feeling bloated.

“She referred me to the hospital to run some tests and they tested my cancer count,” Karen said. “The normal level is 35, but I was 7,000, so they followed it up with a CT scan.

“The next day they showed me the picture of the tumour from the scan, which was massive, so they decided that treatment should start straight away.”

Karen underwent three rounds of chemotherapy and a 12-hour ultra-radical operation at the Royal Derby Hospital, which included a hysterectomy and the removal of both her gall bladder and her spleen.

Karen works as a production services manager at the Hazelwood chemical company Lubrizol but is a graphic designer by trade and was recuperating at home in March last year when she decided to create a lino print of a self-portrait, portraying her own screaming face.

She drew so much satisfaction from the result that she continued to make more prints in order to express the feelings that she was experiencing, which also inspired her to write a series of poems to put her emotions into words.

She said: “When I looked at that first completed picture I realised how much it conveyed my feelings, such as that sense of frustration and anger.

Karen Clegg, from Breaston, has produced a book of art and poetry which she created while she was recovering from aggressive ovarian cancer. Penguin PR: public relations, media and communications

“I got a huge sense of reward from that picture and I realised I wanted to do more, but not because I had plans to display them or put them in a book, but because I realised they were a release and allowed me to make sense of what I was going through.

“That’s why it became so important for my mental health and that’s why I’d always advise someone who is going through a difficult experience or time in their lives to do something active or creative.

“Even if you don’t think what you’ve done is very good, the feeling you get from just doing it and getting it out there is really powerful.”

Lubrizol has agreed to raise money for Derbyshire Mind for two years and its support has allowed the charity to step up its Enjoying Derbyshire project, which aims to bring people across the county together to enjoy activities such as crafts, sports and personal development courses.

Derbyshire Mind, which is affiliated to the national Mind organisation, supports local people through a series of services, including specialist advocacy services and its Enjoying Derbyshire project, and also offers mental health awareness training.

Karen’ s book launch and Discovery Event with Derbyshire Mind takes place at QUAD on Thursday May 17 from 4.30pm to 6.30pm and entrance is free. All proceeds from sales of Karen’s book will go to Derbyshire Mind.

For more information visit www.derbyquad.co.uk/events/book-launch--and--derbyshire-mind-discovery-event.aspx. To find out more about Karen’s Moments poetry and art visit www.facebook.com/MomentsPoetryArt/?ref=bookmarks

ENDS

Pictures show: Karen Clegg, from Breaston, is launching a book which uses art and poetry to explore her emotions and feelings after she was diagnosed with aggressive Stage 3 C ovarian cancer.

For further information please contact Simon Burch on 01332 824941 or email simon@penguinpr.co.uk

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