Health Magazine

Cartooning Against Cancer

Posted on the 28 June 2012 by Jean Campbell

A diagnosis of breast cancer is a major life derailment. It can, and often does, leave us scrambling to deal with treatment and its side effects, work, family and the feelings that come with this dreaded disease.

Sometimes it takes all we have to get through treatment. Each of us needs to find a way, our way, for getting through and getting on with life.


Kate Matthews, a breast cancer survivor, found her way of getting through the bad days in cartooning. By the time she transitioned from active treatment to being a survivor, she had a book! Here is her story.

 Cartooning Against Cancer

When I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in 2010, like others, I had some very dark days. The lack of information and the difficulty in making treatment choices, the fear, the guilt, the despair – it was pretty awful.  But somewhere along the way, I started thinking something along the lines of “Oh, *#@!! this, while I’m just sitting around, I should do something I want to do” so I started drawing cartoons.

The first cartoon I drew was of a bald woman at a salon with the stylist applying silly string to her head while saying, “Oh yes Madam, it’s the least expensive option.” (Don’t get me started about wigs!)


Suddenly, I had a way to cope and it really worked for me all the way through my cancer treatment and beyond.

If I was having a bad day, or an embarrassing experience, if someone was rude or I was feeling invisible, I had this secret weapon to make myself feel better – I could draw a cartoon about it.

There was only one little problem – ugh, I really don’t draw well! After a while, I realized that the cartoons weren’t about art, but instead about expression and humor, so it was OK that they weren’t Van Gogh’s.

Cancer teaches you to take the moment; it gives you permission to do the things you were scared to try before.

After my treatment was over, I collected the cartoons into an eBook called “The Little Pink eBook of (mostly) Cancer Cartoons.”  It’s available at

Now, on top of being a wife, mom and entrepreneur, I’m also an occasional cartoonist. If something strikes me as funny, I’ll do a cartoon. Who knows, maybe someday, I’ll even learn to draw….

I have a website: and for while I hoped that maybe some other folks would also start cartooning and we could do a fundraising book together. Maybe that will come together and maybe not.

In the meantime, stay strong, be well, and if you feel like it, send me your cartoons.

Visit Kate on Facebook at

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