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Tracey Emin talks frankly about cancer

The British artist Tracey Emin has recently shared that her cancer has ‘gone’. (Tracey Emin says bladder cancer is ‘gone’ following major surgeries | The Independent)

Emin was diagnosed in the spring of 2020 with a destructive bladder cancer, causing her to go through major surgery and permanently changing her life.

What is bladder cancer?

‘Bladder cancer is where a growth of abnormal tissue, known as a tumour, develops in the bladder lining.’ About 10,000 people in the UK are affected each year. (NHS)

How has her life changed?

To get rid of the cancer, Emin had invasive surgery which resulted in the removal of her bladder, urethra, lymph nodes, uterus, part of her intestine and half of her vagina.  The surgery she went through means she now ‘relies’ on a urostomy bag which ‘reroutes urine away from the bladder via the small intestine and out through a hole in the abdomen into a pouch’. (Tracey Emin on life after cancer | Evening Standard)

She has spoken openly about the troubles she has faced since being disabled and is determined to give people a voice, stating that she doesn’t want ‘to feel ashamed of the thing that’s keeping me alive.’

Going through such a life event has given her a different perspective, instead of being worried about death she states she has ‘Accepted that pain is ok as the worst thing that can happen is that you can die’ (Woman’s Hour – Tracey Emin; Women and Nightclubs; Young Children and Mental Health – BBC Sounds).  Having this perspective has given her a new lease of life and has enabled her to turn things round, using her experiences to make positive energy and live more practically. 

It has given her a drive to ‘live every moment’ and made her realise how amazing her life is. 


Listening to Emin’s story and the outlook she has, has made me think about how I view my life and whether a change in perspective could help me overcome barriers which I face daily. 

Perspective does have such an impact on our day-to-day decisions and mood. If we are able to work through things and change our perspective it can be a way of overcoming thoughts or feelings which may hold us back or affect our behaviour. 

Talking things through with others can help us to allow ourselves to see a different perspective and help us realise new ways of tackling a situation. Therapy can also help us gain a deeper understanding of why we view things in a certain light and help us make more meaningful choices.

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