Meet Brushes with Cancer Featured Subject and Host Committee Member August Spree

MEET August Spree, a mother of three, dancer, writer, and cancer survivor. August was introduced to Twist Out Cancer at the Chicago Brushes event in 2013. After the event brought her to tears, she walked up to Jenna (the founder) and declared “Hi, we are going to be friends!”. Weeks later, they were having coffee and discussing what ways she could be involved. She has since been a featured subject in two events, and will also be a subject in the upcoming Chicago event in May.

August was diagnosed with a rare form of fatty tissue cancer at 27 years old, and since then has been passionate about working with organizations that are helping support those who battle cancer. “The Brushes program was particularly poignant to me because it brings art and expression into the connection and healing process.” she says. As an artistic person herself, she found that music, dancing, and writing helped her get through her own struggle and strongly believes in the role that all mediums of art can have in helping survivors and caregivers through their experiences. She participated the first time as a survivor and was paired with Brad Young, an artist who created a sculpture to represent her story. “It was such a beautiful experience because I knew going in that I would need to share my story with this person, and I trusted that he would create something beautiful out of it. Being able to share your struggles with someone and have them see it as inspiration is incredibly freeing.” She also mentions that through that first participation, she met the love of her life. “Results are not typical!” she laughs.

After that first participation, August began helping on the host committee. “This program is so unlike any others that I have been involved in because of how it brings the art community and the cancer community together. That connection is beyond words… The subjects have to take that step, that leap of faith, and be open to sharing, and trust that they will be heard. Then, these artists are able to take this trauma, this thing that many would consider such a dark thing, and they create. They take inspiration from it and they create something beautiful. That is the metaphor here – and it is also literal. Life’s dark moments have beauty in them and that is what this program does – it demonstrates that so clearly.”

To anyone thinking of being involved with this program in any capacity, August says “DO IT. Seriously. I mean, be sure you are prepared to be open – whether you are an artist, or a subject, you have to enter in with an open heart ready to share, ready to hear. But definitely do it!” She says that if you aren’t quite sure about whether you want to participate, then try attending an event first. “Go to one of the events. Bring a trusted friend. See the art, hear the stories, talk to the people. I guarantee once you experience this, you will want to be a part of it, like I did.”