Exhibit of art by cancer patients visits Merced

Twenty-three pieces of art on canvas from around the United States were on display at Merced’s Central Valley Cancer Center on Friday afternoon.

The free art exhibit is part of a biennial art competition sponsored by pharmaceutical company Lilly Oncology and titled “Lilly Oncology on Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey.” Original art pieces in various media, including acrylic paint and photographywere exhibited. The art was created by cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, family members of cancer patients, or anyone who has been affected by cancer in some way.

Dr. Dortha T. Chu, who mostly treats patients with breast cancer, and Dr. Merla E. Puray, who treats an array of cancers, believed that having the art show was a great opportunity to raise awareness about cancer, particularly because October is breast cancer awareness month.

“This artwork, made by cancer patients, is a snapshot of what they’re going through,” said Puray. “It shows that the experience is universal and crosses age, class and cultural boundaries.”

Chu explained that cancer touches everyone, and the artwork helps patients to not feel alone.

“Art gives you an ability to express your feelings, where it’s hard with words,” Chu said. “If you read through the words next to the art, you get a sense of a very hopeful theme. We hope it gives encouragement to our patients, and comfort, in the idea that the experience is shared, and helps them to find strength.”

David Shields, 60, of Atwater, has dealt with bladder cancer since 2009 and has been through four cycles of chemotherapy. He said people get complacent about cancer because it is so prevalent and the exhibit gives him strength because it shows that the “whole shared journey is similar to what I’m going through.”

The cancer center hosted an exhibit of art by from three local cancer patients last year when it opened its doors. and Puray said they hope to make the art show an annual event.