HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Monroe County woman with a chronic condition uses a unique and artistic way to cope with her pain.

But it’s not just any ordinary work of art. Her pieces have a purpose.

“They call me the lint lady,” Heidi Hooper said.

Hooper turns clumps of fiber into works of art.

“It really does just kind of blend in instead of standing out,” Hooper said.

The Hamilton Township-based artist is creative. She worked as a metalsmith and sculptor until being diagnosed with a rare microscopic cancer in her right arm in 1999.

“I couldn’t hold a file, let alone wield a hammer. And so each morning while I was sick, I tried something new, until I could find something that would stick,” Hooper said.

That “something” is dryer lint.

“When you get up close you can see, oh yeah, there’s cat hair, there’s pet hair,” Hooper said.

After a 15-year battle fighting the disease, and nearly 20 operations, she’s cancer-free. But the radiation hindered the strength of the most essential tools in her kit: her fingers.

“I have stage two lymphedema, forever. And nerve damage. But, I’m alive,” Hooper said.

Hooper didn’t let anything stop her from finding a new niche. A routine cleaning of her dryer vent led to the discovery of a hobby that would change her life forever and help cope with the effects of the chronic condition.

“I can be hurting like there’s no tomorrow, and just go in there to try to do something for five minutes and the next thing I know, I’ve been there 30 minutes because I got in the zone and I didn’t notice the pain,” Hooper said.

Hooper’s dryer lint art pieces will be on display at the Gamut gallery opening next weekend in Stroudsburg.