Tonight's Toil Girl possesses the skill to aid the mortally afflicted, and in my book that makes her a great and valuable asset to all of mankind. Her name is April and she not only represents the power to help heal others, but also the power to help one's own self overcome great adversity.
It was April's extremely generous and thoughtful husband who approached me in late 2008 about a potential anniversary present for his loving spouse. But before Thomas explains how the portrait came to be, let's have him share a bit of history about tonight's lovely stethescope swinger.
"April is a Pediatric Oncology nurse as well as a recent Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor. She was diagnosed on December 12th, 2007, which also happened to be our six month wedding anniversary. For the next year April battled Cancer with eleven months of chemo. Despite the trauma of diagnosis, treatment, and hair loss; April maintained a positive outlook through it all. The support of our wonderful family, friends, and co-workers helped ease the burden that Cancer brings with it. But now we can both celebrate as she is officially in remission!
Aside from work, April is a very outgoing and enthusiastic person. When she's not being creative with scrapbooking and other crafts, she can be found shopping--especially for purses and make-up. She loves spending time with family and spoiling our nephews rotten. The most special time is when it's her and I together. We enjoy romantic dinners out, movies, spending time with our friends, and catering to the desires of our two spoiled cats.
We both have seen and admired Les's work for some time. When I found out that the traditional first anniversary gift was paper, I knew that a portrait by him was the perfect present. As for the design, I wanted to showcase April being a nurse as well as her battle with Lymphoma. She has long admired pin-up style art, and thought that Les's work would suit her well. After receiving the completed picture, it was all I could do not to show it to her. In fact, all of our friends and family had seen the final product before she had."
And here's the lady of the month herself, Miss April, for a follow-up of her husband's eloquent and generous words:
Les, your portrait of me could not have come at a better time in my life. After losing my hair and going through chemo, feeling like a sexy woman was the farthest thought from my mind. But I could look at your drawing and it would make me realize that that woman was still inside of me. Yes I was bald and throwing up, but, damn it, I was still sexy and attractive too!
As a BBW, I never felt truly comfortable in my skin. But now I do, thanks to you. I now see myself as my husband sees me, a beautiful and sexy woman.
Thank you so much, Les, for making my first anniversary memorable. And of course thanks to my wonderful hubby Thomas, too!
I can't express how fulfilling my life has been for the decade or so I've been creating Toil Girls, but this email I received from April and Thomas does a pretty good job of expressing that sense of accomplishment. When a person designs a beautiful display of roses for someone's wedding, or a fantastic meal for someone's birthday dinner, they don't always have the pleasure of knowing in generous detail what those gifts meant to the receiver. But more times than not I have that privilege, and I am very grateful to have it.
May I also add that I greatly enjoyed creating this piece of classic pin-up art, because that's exactly what it was intended to be: pure, seductive, fun, old school cheesecake art.
Thanks for the assignment Thomas. And thanks for being a beautiful and inspirational muse for me and soooooo many other people April.