New Roads because I'm a Fighter, not a Fawner

New Roads because I'm a Fighter, not a Fawner

I like to be helpful, share, teach, lift others up. Over time, I learned ways to do that that were helpful to me too. These were not easy lessons for me because I have a tendency toward believing in the best in people no matter what. It doesn't always pan out. So what's up?

  1. I'm applying for grants for some of my new projects, like A Rhino in Every Home.
  2. I just created Society6 and RedBubble products for my Flamethrower vs. Trowel/Excision vs. Ablation Endo-Graphic infographic. 
  3. I'm looking into ways to license my artwork and reach a wider audience since other people are having great success selling images of my work illegally out from under me. (Yes, you read that right. It's a thing that happens. Take a breath with me. We're gonna be fine.)

More Details

1. The grant applications are a long-standing list item. It's hard to get grants for rhino-related art. I'm working on it and also considering finding sponsors. It takes a lot of planning, strategizing, and spreadsheeting.

Ensconced, digital art image by Sarah Soward. Rhino in a golden bubble

2. So many details here. I'm not apologizing. Read at your own risk. I write this with love. 

The Endo-Graphic was (and is) a labor of love. I created it after my first endometriosis surgery. It took 23 years to get diagnosed since the first time I hauled my teenage self to a Planned Parenthood and tried to get them to understand how bad it was. I love PP, and won't knock them for not helping. A slew of other gynos over the years were equally unhelpful. In fact, no one believed me until my husband came in and complained. Funny, that? (But I digress.)

The Endo-Graphic, flamethrower vs trowel, copyright Sarah Soward

To get to my first surgery was a gamut of invasive procedures that were horrifically painful. Most were done without anesthesia, not even local. I will spare you the details. It was gruesome and the doctors were annoyed at me for showing my suffering. The nurses were amazing, though, squeezing my hand, shooting the doctors dirty looks, holding my weight afterward because my legs couldn't. Oh wait. I was going to spare you the details. Oops.

My first endo surgery was ablation, where they just burn off the top of visible disease. It didn't end up going well. It doesn't generally go well. There are so very many studies (that go back to the middle of the 1900s) that say that excision is the best option, not burning, not ablation, not medicating symptoms away to leave the disease to spread. We're still fighting for excision. It's better now, but there is always more educating of health professionals and potential patients to be done. 

Skipping more details, we'll move forward a few years to when the endometriosis had wreaked so much havoc on my system that my digestive system was no longer functioning properly. I lost too much weight. I couldn't eat. I had every gastro test suggested, and the doctors kept coming back with shrugged shoulders, even after one of the nurses tried to take me to the ER directly after one of those procedures. I should have said yes. I didn't.

It was the same pain I'd been having for months with food, and it hadn't killed me yet. I was still conscious, which is more than I could say about how my endo pain sometimes left me. "The ER is only for imminent death," I thought. I was wrong.

It took me 2 hours to make it back to my car.

And I was getting little to no headway with my insurance company allowing me to move forward with endo surgery. During one long, pain-wracked phone call with them I found out why. My insurance company didn't believe I needed endometriosis surgery because I hadn't gone to the ER for it. 5 minutes before this phone call, I was stifling my pain screams in a Home Depot bathroom. (We've all been there, right?)

So I went home, dropped everything, and called Urgent Care. The short version is that I did end up in the ER, on morphine.

A lot happened before I got my second endo surgery. My legs tried to stop working. My nervous system went crazy. I was hospitalized for a day. 

The very next day after excision surgery with wide margins (plus the removal of diseased organs), I was able to eat again. I could walk better (it's still a work in progress). A lot of the pain was simply gone. This was the closest thing to a miracle I ever experienced.

When I did my last follow up with my gastro motility specialist (who said she mostly works with the elderly), I had good news for her finally! She was more relieved than I expected.

She said that if the endometriosis excision surgery had not worked, she was going to put me on a feeding tube.

We just sort of looked at each other for a minute.

Life expectancy on one of those things is...not good.

Then conversation continued. She was one of my favorite doctors, but it was a relief to be well enough to not need her expertise anymore.

In the midst of all of this, back in 2017, I created The Endo-Graphic. One section of it has made its way across the internet and beyond! Some of the people who shared it, did it respectfully and credited me properly. Some did not.

Way too many hours of productive time are still spent tracking down my image and trying to convince people that I deserve credit for my work.

I finally got fed up enough with other businesses using my graphic and making uncredited, derivative work of it that helps them prosper, that I decided to start selling the image.

Selling the image was never my plan. I just wanted to help people. 

My good heart believed that the people who shared my image also wanted to help people, and I'm a part of "people," right? Right?

But wait. 

It took 23 years for help with endometriosis. Why should I believe that others would want to help me, even in this? Why would I believe in fairness and equitability and sisterhood and that Endo Warriors are a Tribe who have each others' backs?


The good news is that about half the people I contact about adding proper credit to the image and derivative works of any part of The Endo-Graphic comply. Some are downright friendly! In fact, if you get the chance, head to Bloomin' Uterus and enjoy the pants off that blog! It's run by a truly amazing and giving Endo Warrior who does believe in equitability, teamwork, and helping others.

The others? Well, they get periodic Cease and Desist emails from me now. It's what I have to do to retain my copyright. I take screenshots of my stolen work, save them to a file. I dig for contact info, make comments on social media posts that are ignored or deleted. Send emails. Fill out contact forms. Rinse. Repeat. You know, Artist Life stuff.

For all the people who respond respectfully and ask permission and give me proper credit: THANK YOU!

  • This graphic was created from lived experience, torturous pain, and a deep drive to not die. 
  • It was made so that other people would not have to suffer what I did.

Since I understand now that I do not deserve to suffer, starve, or die, it's time to allow this Little Graphic That Could to help me too.

Endo-Graphic merch is available on Society6 here and on RedBubble here.

If you are interested in bulk orders or wholesaling, contact me to work out a contract.

3. Licensing and Print on Demand and more Booooooks! 

Rhinotopia Beginnings, hardcover and ebook by Sarah Soward

These the plans for part of my art future. If you are interested in licensing my artwork, just contact me. I love working with teams and in concert with others!

What's coming?

I have a handful of projects and art series in development and in varying stages of progress. I have a ton of art that is already finished and ready for the world, especially my 40+ digital art pieces for The Illustrated Rhinoceros Sutra. Love rhinos? I'm your artist.

All of my art is animal-centric. In 2009, I decided to be a wildlife artist who focused on endangered species, especially the rhinoceros. I just keep painting rhinos! I love them! Over time, I branched out from only endangered animals to wild animals. Every now and then a domesticated animal pops up in an art piece. And that's okay! You know what else is okay? I'm about to launch a series of artwork focusing on domestic cats. Yep. I will paint anything that draws me to it. I get to spread my wings and soar outside the box I built for myself. I mean, boxes are nice and all, but I want to see (and express) the world. 

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