Tallahassee doctors paint for cure

Members of the medical community in Tallahassee are taking a creative approach to combat and bring awareness to breast cancer.

The Painting Pink Art Exhibition and Auction had its gallery opening this month at the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center in support of “Team Virginia” to raise money for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Virginia Snyder is a 57-year-old retired nurse and team leader who knows breast cancer very well. She has worked in the medical profession for 35 years and seen patients with breast cancer, and she is also battling against it.

“I was diagnosed about 10 years ago and had surgery – mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation – and went through all that and had been cancer-free up until about April of this year,” Snyder said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the second most common cause of death among women.

Snyder said she experienced some pain in her bone, and it was diagnosed as a recurrence of breast cancer. However, this time it expanded to other parts of her body.

“It’s breast cancer cells, but it has metastasized to the liver and the lung,” Snyder said. “You can have breast cancer cells go to different places.”

Physicians, nurses, patients and even members of Snyder’s family painted the artwork displayed in the gallery. Some of the paintings ranged from depictions of the beach during the afternoon to messages saying, “Fight, hope is here.”

Dr. Elyzabeth Anderson, a dietician at the cancer center, one of the art donors and a former colleague of Snyder, said although the cancer center is a science-based organization, members put a lot of effort into the art for donations.

“Instead of just asking people to donate money, we put time and effort into creating these pieces of art that are lasting forever,” Anderson said. “It is a donation, but at the same time it’s a piece of us, a piece of our heart and our support.”

According to breastcancer.org, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States this year, along with 64,640 new cases of noninvasive breast cancer.

The donors of the artwork had a step-by-step instruction from an artist at Painting with a Twist. They were provided with a canvas, paint and brushes, and they used their creativity to bring their works to life.

Joanna Whitson, owner of Tallahassee’s Painting with a Twist, said Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and “Team Virginia” contacted the studio because they wanted to do a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“We actually hosted different classes at a little bit of a discounted price,” Whitson said. “A bunch of people came in and created the paintings, and they all donated their paintings. They paid for the classes themselves and donated their artwork to the auction, so that’s why we have all these paintings here.”

Some of the paintings have a bid of $25, and other bids are as high as $100. The auction will continue online at facebook.com/paintingpink. To bid via Facebook, users should click on photos, select the album titled “Auction,” click on a painting, then write their name, painting number and bid amount in the comment line.

The bids will be accepted until Oct. 23. The exhibit will remain open until Oct. 31 at the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center.

“We want to raise funds to help find a cure for breast cancer, to give money to the cause and help some of us who need that cure,” Snyder said.