For a Dawson Creek resident, dealing with her daughter's cancer involved going back into art, something she had not done extensively for 40 years.
"What's going on in your life was coming out at the end of your fingers," said Mary Parslow, whose artwork is currently featured in a show at the Centre for Creative Arts in Grande Prairie.
Parslow said she has always been interested in art, and said that many people in her family were musicians or other types of artist.
As young as eight, she said she wanted to be an artist.
She even went to university to earn an art degree.
However, life would end up taking her to different places. She soon become a school teacher, teaching children in Grades 1 to 3 and helping teach special education students, particularly those with autism.
Parslow said that because of these children's autism, they often have difficulty developing emotional responses, and getting them to express what they were feeling.
Rather than relying on words to get this done, Parslow would often have these students use art to try and express what they were feeling.
After doing this - and taking a short turn acting as an Anglican priest in Chetwynd - she retired from teaching.
However, five years ago, her daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Parslow said her daughter attempted to remain positive despite the diagnosis.
Her daughter, the eldest of four, was feisty, determined, and strong-minded, and behaved in such a way that people around her did not know she had this disease, said Parslow.
Parslow decided to express the feelings that came from this turn of events through her art with her newfound time she had in retirement.
Part of the artwork she does is through printmaking, which involves artistically designing prints through a press or other means of engraving or cutting things onto a surface like linoleum or plastic.
“I like the process oriented approach,” she said. “It’s very satisfying. I enjoy the design part of it.”
Parslow said she also enjoys the bold colours, the graphic images, and how expressive it can be when compared to other forms of art.
“It helps you express the joys/difficulties of life,” she added.
During some points in making some of these artworks, she would often see things come out through her art that she did not recognize herself until much later.
In one painting, she saw two abstract figures that appealed to her at the time.
Later on, she saw the pictures represented both her and her daughter.
“The process is like a dance and way of saying, ‘Goodbye.’ ”
That print, Sweet Sorrow # 2, was made last year.
Two weeks ago, Parslow said her 42-year-old daughter lost her battle with cancer.
Despite this turn of events, however, Parslow said that she will continue to work on her art.
“It’s just part of who I am,” she said.
She said that despite the tragedy, the art work has helped her deal with the emotions she felt before and after her daughter’s passing.
“We don’t need to stifle it, we need to respond,” she added. “We need to work through it.”