"The Never Ending Play", oil on canvas, 95X105 cm


As we grow old do our thoughts age with us, or do they stay young?

Most often my thoughts are fresh, breezy, effervescent, contrary to my body as I see it reflected in the shop windows I walk by. Who is that person, I ask myself, that unrecognizable old person?

I live in my head. I have a lively dialogue with everything that happens around me, or that I am planning, or imagining, or looking at, or reading about.

Nine years ago I learned that something shocking and terrifying inhabited me. Cancer.

I went to the doctor because of a cough that was not going away and came out with a diagnosis of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, or CLL. With breathtaking speed death started living at the center of my thoughts.

CLL is incurable. That is, medical researchers have not found all the causes and no sure-fire cures. But it can be treated, the problem is to find out which treatment and when. After the diagnosis, when the waves of panic subsided, I started reading every book I could find on people who defeated cancer. They all had something in common: they became active participants in their medical care, they laughed, they followed a good healthy diet, and they never gave up.

I had always had a healthy Mediterranean diet, but I improved on it, reading many books on the subject, the best for me being “Challenge Cancer and WIN!” by Dr. Kim Dalzell. I exercised regularly, swimming, walking, and doing yoga. And I lived as if I had no CLL, to the point of not doing blood tests every four or six months as requested by the hematologist. Each time I went for a test and I saw the rise in my WBC – white cell blood count, or leucocytes – I felt death breathing over my shoulder, which would give me tremendous stress translated into flu’s and colds. So for four years I stopped going to the doctor and doing blood tests. I know, very foolish, “mais je ne regrette rien”, so glad I did it, gave myself four wonderful years without the fear of mortality always hanging over my head.

Nine years have passed and I have had a bumpy road, but I am still here, and so are my thoughts. The disease has not touched them.

Note: the screaming monkey on a Tamil theatre stand is me, how I felt – and still feel – when I learned I had CLL.


  1. Minha querida Celeste,
    That image of you, as the screaming monkey, is not my image of you! To me you are the Winged Victory of Samothrace, you are like your paintings of Mateus, a magnificent poem of beauty and talent and all of your pain and all the big challenges on your path seem to make you stronger, and your art keeps growing, and your words glow with strength and vitality and magical beauty.
    You are a gift to this life!

  2. The monkey stand is you? The tricks you have and you've shared out:) You have beautiful heart that you shared in paintings and writings. You are the winner who will always win!