Metro-East News

Cancer patients, survivors gather to paint happy moments

Cancer survivors, fighters, and thrivers - paint what is their happiest thought to them, from a previous, current or future experience. The event took place at the Cancer Care Center on Tuesday in Swansea and drew about a dozen people. Shay Mayweather, Miss Missouri SuperNational, thought up the project and worked with the Center's staff to make it a reality. The paintings will be auctioned off at the Crown Room at BallPark Village, with proceeds going back to the Cancer Care Center. Landry Westrich of St. Louis draws a hummingbird.
Cancer survivors, fighters, and thrivers - paint what is their happiest thought to them, from a previous, current or future experience. The event took place at the Cancer Care Center on Tuesday in Swansea and drew about a dozen people. Shay Mayweather, Miss Missouri SuperNational, thought up the project and worked with the Center's staff to make it a reality. The paintings will be auctioned off at the Crown Room at BallPark Village, with proceeds going back to the Cancer Care Center. Landry Westrich of St. Louis draws a hummingbird. News-Democrat

SharonYvonne Worrill dips her thin paint brush into some water and then into a shade of purple from her palette of colors.

She then goes to the bottom right of her completed abstract piece where she signs her name.

The Fairview Heights breast cancer survivor painted images of a candle, question mark, exclamation mark and eyes to represent the hazy moment she had when she awoke from the anesthesia she was under during her double mastectomy to remove her breast cancer.

“It’s the coming back into the realization of I had surgery, what the surgery was, and why,” Worrill said of her piece, which she called “Transcendence.”

Worrill was one of about 15 people who participated this week in a Paint for Life activity at the Memorial & St. Elizabeth’s Cancer Treatment Center.

People who have gone through cancer or going through cancer treatment used water colors to paint images representing the happiest day of their lives. The activity allowed the participants to tell their stories and use their creativity while relieving the stress of going through cancer.

Worrill, whose treatment included chemotherapy, had never painted before.

“When I read about this, I thought this is very unique, thought it would be therapeutic, another way of expressing myself,” Worrill said.

Shay Mayweather, who is Miss Missouri Supranational, helped organize the activity for the Cancer Treatment Center. She plans to auction off the paintings at the Ballpark Village in St. Louis and give the money raised back to the cancer treatment center for its wellness programs. The date and time for the auction has yet to be finalized.

“I wanted them to paint the best moment of their life to give them a chance to relax and take their minds off of everything,” Mayweather said.

Mayweather said everyone has a unique story, and painting gives people who are going through cancer or helping someone through cancer a chance to relive the happy thoughts in their lives.

“Everyone has to have an outlet to be happy, and with everything they have been through, it’s hard to sit down and remember those things with everything that’s going on,” Mayweather said. “It’s nice to (help) someone bring out that happiness.”

Bill and Carolyn Mayr of Belleville also came to the session to paint their happy moments. Carolyn Mayr, who had breast cancer, worked on an image of her on her wedding day in her dress.

“It’s just an impression,” Mayr said. “I don’t think it looks like me, but I’m just painting the thing that was a happy memory.”

Bill Mayr, who previously had skin cancer, worked on a picture of Tuscany, where the couple went to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

“It’s the happiest because I made it to 50 (years) ... and Italy was a place we wanted to see for quite a while,” Bill Mayr said. “We had studied a lot of art history in school, and wanted to see Florence and the rest of Tuscany.”

Debbie Arnett, of Collinsville, is a teacher at William Holliday Elementary. She had gone through breast cancer and needed to have chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and radiation treatment.

She painted her perspective of a sandy beach looking out at the water. Painting the image helped put her at peace.

“The beach is my favorite place to be, and I remember going to Florida … and sitting out there, and looking at this big rock in the middle (of the ocean) way out there and just feeling at peace,” Arnett said.

When she was at the beach she realized she was still able to savor the time in paradise.

“You have all these emotions coming out about having these surgeries, having these treatments, having all this stuff, and realizing you are alive and still going to enjoy this, and going to enjoy it for the time you have,” Arnett said. “You can still have your smells, even if you have your wig on.”

Contact reporter Joseph Bustos at jbustos@bnd.com or 618-239-2451. Follow him on Twitter: @JoeBReporter.

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