Support Chris Potter: Artist, Friend, Familyman

A loving father, dedicated husband, generous friend, and renowned plein air artist in Santa Barbara and beyond, Chris Potter suddenly fell ill earlier this month, finding it almost impossible to breathe. Ten days later, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer. Additional scans confirmed that the cancer had not moved to his brain, and forthcoming tests will determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of his body.
Since November 1, Chris has been unable to breathe regularly, due to a large tumor pressing on his lungs and esophagus. That makes every day a waking nightmare for his entire family, including his wife, Julie, his 15-year-old son, Malakye, and his 13-year-old daughter, Zenia.
The battle begins soon with months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, followed by a full year of immunotherapy.
Amidst the chaos, Chris Potter was able to reflect on his ongoing ordeal. Here is what he would like us to know:
I just had the hardest week of my life. I haven't been feeling good for the past three months, with brain-splitting migraines, chest pain, low energy, and anxiety.
I finally saw a doctor about a month ago to discuss these things. They gave me a physical, which came out fine, and prescribed anxiety pills. The anxiety was culled, but my physical symptoms worsened.
Two Sundays ago, I noticed that all my fingernails were curving into my skin, a disgusting Gollum-like affliction known as digital clubbing. This was a sign of something seriously wrong. I once again went to the doctors to figure out the cause, and they determined a CT scan of my chest was in order.
Later that evening, we got the call: There is a large mass in my chest. I’ll never forget hearing those words. Pure terror, my world collapsing in on itself. I immediately felt so sorry, not just for myself, but for all the people around me that would have to hear this news. I’m so sorry Julie, you don’t deserve this.
I went to the ER that evening as I couldn’t get a full breath and my headaches were debilitating. The doctor was very concerned about the headaches. He had seen the extent of the growth revealed by the chest scan and wanted to scan my brain as well. Then came more terror waiting for the results, alone in a hospital bed in the middle of the night, to find out if I had fucking brain cancer. The CT didn’t show anything, but they wanted to do an MRI as well.
The next day, we saw a pulmonologist, who took the first look at the mass. It had completely blocked the bronchial airway to the right lung, collapsing it. It also was blocking the esophagus, causing more constrictive breathing. We had the biopsy done the next day.
Then another waiting game — not just waiting, but waiting with difficulty breathing and coughing up blood from the biopsy. Fistfuls of steroids, antibiotics, painkillers, Xanax. Just stay alive, just breathe, just stay positive. Like everyone tells you, that's the most important thing. It's also the hardest thing to do for five days wondering if this godforsaken disease is even treatable.
The only thing that got me through this was Julie. She is so strong. Our bond is so strong. We love each other dearly. I felt our connection during this whole crisis, not just as a feeling or a thought, but a tangible lifeline in this world. Then I felt all of the support from my kids, my family, my friends, and all of the people I have affected through my art. I feel truly loved and supported.
Then we got the call a couple days ago. I have an aggressive form of cancer, at least stage 3. I wailed, I sobbed, I let the reality soak through me.
I looked up at the sky and the trees and decided I wanted to live. I wanted to continue my work, I wanted to continue my love for the world and the people around me. In that moment I had a surreal out of body experience. I felt all of the connections I have made throughout my life like a great web of energy — all of us supporting each other in our thirst for life and love and connection. This is the meaning of life.
I love all of you. Thank you so much for being a part of my life. I’ll do everything I can to stick around for you.

Chris’ decision more than a decade ago to ditch corporate life and become a full-time artist is an inspiration to many. His artworks adorn restaurants, offices, public spaces, and private homes around the world. They reflect a life centered on healthy living and being present with nature. His art encourages us to slow down and appreciate the world and landscapes around us, to pay more attention to shapes and light and colors, to focus on our breath, and to be more mindful of how meaningful nature is to our well being. He's not just painting because he is gifted; his talent comes from his ability to stop and let every detail in.
Chris will fight this disease with all of his might, but the struggle will be physically, emotionally, and psychologically grueling. Even when he wins the war, Chris will have lost months of income from not selling his original art, which is the primary financial support for his family. He is unable to paint right now and also cannot manage the sale of his original pieces during this time. That will persist until he is healed. (There is a very limited amount of prints available via Chris Potter Art .)
Over the years, Chris has lent his artistic and fundraising support to countless organizations and causes, including the Mental Health Association, Downtown Santa Barbara, the Arthritis Foundation, SCAPE, and countless schools, charities, and educational programs. Now, he is asking for your help to get his family through this tumultuous time, which is expected to last at least six months. We need to do everything in our collective power to uplift our friend as he faces the most challenging crisis of his life.
These funds will be used to support the family through the journey to come — to pay for the medical expenses that are not covered by insurance as well as utilities, food, gasoline, and life in general. The donations will also provide a stable base from which Chris can get back on his feet once the medical war is over. Aside from her husband’s terrifying health challenges, Julie is very worried about the family’s basic expenses, as she left her own career years ago to support the art.
“On all of our trips, everything we did as a family, art was prioritized,” said Julie. “We are in total shock about our financial future too now. We are scared to no end.”

Organizer and beneficiary

His Tribe . 
Santa Barbara, CA
Christopher Potter 
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