The difficult news……

Okay, I don’t know how to say this the right way. There probably is no right way, and saying it is never going to be easy. Some of you may have heard, through us being friends on facebook or through the grapevine, but about two months ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Stage four cancer. Not good news……

It has been just over a year since I last posted on this blog, and I now understand the reason my voice has been absent so long: I have been dealing with an illness that stopped me from doing much of what I took for granted, much of what I enjoy doing. For some time I have been thrashed by this thing growing in me, years apparently, and it is only recently that I’ve begun fighting back. The previous 6-7 months have been the worst health in my life. And now we know why.

One sad thing is that I may not get to do pottery anymore. Possibly. We’ll see. I will need chemo for the rest of my days and my immune system may not be so happy subjected to a clay environment. I am hopeful that won’t be the case, that eventually I will regain some vigor and take up my sponge and metal rib, plunge my hands back into a bucket of liquid clay. I have so many things left I want to do! I have so many things left I still need to make!

Since I started treatments I have also been a bit fuzzier than I like, but hopefully that too will improve along with my general health. I enjoy thinking things through, and it hurts to have those skills impaired. I have things I want to talk about. Really! πŸ™‚ I’ve been so grateful that some of what I share here on this blog finds an appreciative audience. I must have written close to a million words! That takes commitment! There are 410 published posts (@ 2,200 words avg) and an amazing 409 that are stuck as drafts. I hope these essays will continue to make a difference long after I’m gone……

So this is my new reality. I don’t really know what the post-diagnosis me is going to face. Too much is unknown. Will I respond to treatments? Will I be able to some day resume making a living as even a part time potter? What I do know is that the steps moving forward are going to be different.

Thankfully I have been surrounded by some really great people, and many of my needs are being taken care of. Folks are bringing me meals or having them delivered. Groceries are getting dropped off at my doorstep. People have organized the clutter in my house, gotten rid of so much unhealthy excess, and even taken control of my languishing garden! I am truly humbled by the caring and generosity that has been shown to me…. I’m amazed and humbled that my friends have all come together and made this transition less filled with dread. It’s just a shame it often takes a tragedy for the wonderful people in our lives to shine their brightest….. I imagine my health will get worse in time, but right now I feel so blessed with the community supporting me ❀

Thus far this blog is a sort of hidden community. I know so many of you reading this will be potters like me, and I will be very glad if you (if everyone) have me in your thoughts. If we have met or communicated here I’d love to hear from you again! If you have not yet introduced yourself I would be interested to meet you! If there are essays that made you think differently or that you find some value in I’d be glad to hear about it. πŸ™‚ It is hard knowing who’s out there. Writing a blog can be a lonely exercise. But it seems worth doing! I’m not giving up yet!

For those with the resources and interest, my friend Carrie set up a Gofundme project that is helping me change my situation into something more manageable and will contribute to paying some of my bills. It is also important that I replace the income from at least one missed pottery sale season. Feeling as sickly as I did to start the year I was never going to be ready for my June sale and the diagnosis made sure I wouldn’t even attempt it. I hope in the next few months I can resume potting to prepare for my Holiday sales, but otherwise my income will be stalled out…. You can donate here (I feel bad for even asking, but some folks will appreciate the chance to do something to help). Thanks everyone!

And a last plea….. Don’t wait too long to get yourself checked out! By the time I realized something was wrong it was already too late…. Be smarter than I was!!!!

All my best,




About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The difficult news……

  1. Victoria Hamilton says:

    Dearest Carter, Vicki Hamilton here – friends with Tony Clennell. Your blogs have not only been inspiring and thought provoking, but have been the basis of many many conversations I have had with my clay students. Your absence has been more than noticeable, and I am in shock at this news Of course your friends and community are rallying around!

    As you gain strength, please write more when you can. There are so many of us out here (Seattle, Washington) that have counted on and looked forward to your thoughts on art, clay and life.

  2. Thinking of you Carter, really appreciated your blogging words…take care fella

  3. Lynne Burke says:

    Carter, I was stunned and oh-so-saddened to learn of the journey you find yourself taking! I have stood with too many friends and family who have fought the big β€œC.” I have also witnessed many miracles!

    My own mother was diagnosed with terminal, inoperable lung cancer a number of years ago and was told she had about 3 months to live. She bravely went through chemotherapy and radiation, and incurred various serious complications from those treatments. Her tumor miraculously disappeared (her doctors were shocked!), she returned to work, retired, and lived a full life. When she died, it was totally unrelated to cancer!

    I tell you this to encourage you! My mother was a strong Christian and I truly believe God heard her prayers and our pleas for a miracle. He is still in the business of miracles; I am fervently praying for a miraculous healing for you!

    I would be honored to visit you and to pray with you. Just let me know when.

    • Thanks for sharing your story ❀ And of course also for wanting to help. I welcome any attempts my friends and family make on my behalf. And of course you are always welcome to visit with me, talk about our lives, talk about pots, and enjoy each other's company. One of the important parts of my ability to face this is that I am surrounded by folks who care and who have my wellbeing in their hearts. I could not do this alone, and I am grateful for you reaching out ❀

      All the best!


  4. togeika says:

    How are you doing Carter?

  5. Liz Brook says:

    Hello Carter, we don’t know each other – I am new to pottery this year. I am forever trawling Pinterest and YouTube for anything and everything to do with pottery. Anyway I stumbled across your blog through Pinterest, finding one of your beautiful mug forms. Such beautiful movement and flow of the clay. I just want to feel the curves of the mug, poetry. I can only aspire to some day being able to make similar cohesive but not too uniform shapes. Thank you for your contribution to the pottery world and to my inspiration.
    Take care
    Liz Brook (New Zealand)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.