Susan Hope Schaffer’s mother encouraged her to develop her artistic talents at a young age, but she never took it seriously until after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. What began as an experience filled with fear, pain and anguish, says Schaffer, eventually brought “hope and energy” to herself and others through her artwork.
This year, Schaffer was rewarded for those efforts through the Lilly Oncology on Canvas art competition. She was named this year’s overall winner and a donation was made to her selected charity. To date, the contest has had more than 4,500 applicants.
“They gave me a voice to tell parts of my journey,” says Schaffer, who began submitting her artwork to the competition in 2008. She says creating art out of her cancer experience has given her a sense of purpose. She has since donated several of her pieces to local cancer centers and hospitals.
Schaffer’s winning piece, "Visions of Hope," highlights how her medical team, family and other cancer survivors gave her hope through her diagnosis and treatment.
Susan Hope Schaffer describes how her artwork has evolved over the years since her breast cancer diagnosis.
"My cancer journey has gone from some pain and anguish to a beautiful result, and that's the artwork that I've created," says Schaffer. "Visions of Hope," along with other submissions to this year's competition, will be on display throughout the United States in a traveling art exhibit.
Lynnea Washburn, a survivor of lymphoma, and Dennis Holliday, who was impacted by the death of a close friend from cancer, were awarded second and third places, respectively.
As part of their award, the three winners were invited to New York to attend a Lilly Oncology on Canvas event and art exhibit, where other submissions were displayed.
“You can feel it, that’s what’s so great about artwork. You can feel what they’re trying to represent,” Holliday says of the dozens of other artists featured that day. “You can feel almost every drawing and painting.”
Individuals at New York's Grand Central Terminal were offered the opportunity to view some of the selected artwork submitted to this year's Lilly Oncology on Canvas competition.
The Hope Murals Project
In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Oncology on Canvas art competition, Lilly Oncology and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship created The Hope Murals Project. The idea behind the project is to allow anyone who has been affected by cancer to help paint a series of 10 murals developed by artists who have previously submitted artwork to the competition.