Press Release: Twist Out Cancer’s Fifth Annual Brushes With Cancer Event To Take Place On September 9






Connecting Those Touched by Cancer with Artists to Create for a Cause on September 9, 2017


July 17, 2017, Chicago – Twist Out Cancer, an international non-profit charitable organization that provides psychosocial support to individuals touched by cancer through creative arts programming, announced today that tickets are now on sale for its fifth annual Brushes with Cancer Exhibition and Gala.  It will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at Revel Fulton Market, located at 1215 W. Fulton Market.  Brushes with Cancer is a six month program that matches those touched by cancer with artists to create a unique piece of artwork that reflects on their journey with cancer.  Over 100 artists and inspirations will showcase their stories and works of art at this year’s art exhibition and gala.  Attendees will have a chance to view and bid on over 50 unique works of art that were created by an artist as a tribute to their inspiration’s journey with cancer.  Each piece of art will be exhibited and auctioned at the event with proceeds helping to further Twist Out Cancer’s mission to support cancer survivors and their loved ones.  Over 700 attendees are expected to attend.

“After surviving Grey Zone Lymphoma in 2011, I saw firsthand how young adults with cancer have a unique set of needs that are not being addressed or talked about.  I found that one way of fulfilling this need is through creative arts, which could be used as a mechanism for coping and healing,” said Jenna Benn Shersher, the founder and executive director of Twist Out Cancer.  “Twist Out Cancer was founded on the principle that when you share, the world opens up.  Since our inception we have impacted more than 100,000 people through our online platforms and community wide programs including Brushes with Cancer.”

This year’s gala will feature remarks from Jenna Benn Shersher and Jaymee Sire, a former anchor at ESPN and current food blogger who has personally been touched by cancer.  The event will also feature a live performance by composer and filmmaker Kobi Swissa who will be playing music from the Brushes with Cancer soundtrack and DJ John Simmons who will be spinning music throughout the evening.

“Twist Out Cancer uses art as a form of healing, communicating, and storytelling,” said artist Jacqueline Carmody who has been involved with Twist out Cancer since 2013.  “I have been so honored to be paired with such brave and amazing individuals each year.  Every experience has been unique and words will never be able to express the power of this event.”

VIP tickets are available for $175 and general admission tickets are available for $125.  VIP guests will attend a private reception one hour prior to the event with the program’s participating artists and inspirations.  Dinner will be provided for all guests by Limelight Catering, Entertaining Company, and The Fat Shallot.  All tickets also include access to an open bar.  Tickets will be available for purchase online until September 8 at 5 p.m. at:

Due to the success of Brushes with Cancer over the last five years, the program has successfully launched in Ann Arbor and Toronto.  In 2018, the program will be implemented in Tel Aviv, Montreal and Philadelphia.  If you are interested in participating in the program in one of the sister cities please contact Jenna Benn Shersher at

Established in 2011 as a non-profit organization, Twist Out Cancer offers the platform, tools and community – both online and offline – for anyone touched by cancer to feel connected to a community, and for many to take action.  Since its inception, Twist Out Cancer has touched over 100,000 people through its programs and events.  A labor of love, Twist Out Cancer is a volunteer-led organization boasting a network of over 200 active volunteers serving as ambassadors in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Tel Aviv, Toronto and Montreal.

Sponsorships for the 2017 Brushes with Cancer event are available here.




For media inquiries, please contact Joshua Taustein at


From Leading to Following

On Sunday November 3, I had the pleasure of returning to Montreal, Canada to run a Twist Out Cancer workshop at Le Mood, the festival of unexpected Jewish learning, arts and culture.  In partnership with Dan Hadad, Twist Out Cancer Board Chair and ROI alum, the Schusterman Foundation afforded us with the unique opportunity to present our work in a city that we used to call home nearly a decade ago.

From 2003-2005, I served as the Director of Programs at Hillel Montreal after I completed my studies at McGill University.  During my tenure, I worked with Dan who at the time was the President of Concordia’s Hillel and subsequently the Director of Programming at Centre Hillel.  Dan was vibrant, argumentative, and whip smart. His relentless desire and commitment to educate and advocate for Israel amongst Jews and non-Jews alike was particularly daunting during the wake of the second intifada. On and off campus, tensions were high.  Dan used this as an opportunity to educate, advocate and transform the community into spirited cheerleaders for the state of Israel. I was initially drawn to Dan because he was a deep thinker, provocative and curious. Within weeks of working with him on various campus initiatives, I grew to love Dan because of the capacity of his heart and his deep desire to give.
Dan not only was my colleague but he quickly became my best friend.

In 2005, when I decided to pursue a masters degree at Columbia University in New York, Dan and I still managed to see each other every few weeks in Montreal on New York.  He was always a top priority.

Upon completing my studies in New York, I spent one last summer in Montreal with Dan before heading home to Chicago to begin employment at the Anti-Defamation League, where I have worked for the last six years.  As I embarked on a new chapter back home in Chicago, Dan moved to Toronto and took a position as the Associate Director of Special Projects at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Although there was an undeniable distance between us physically, we were still inextricably connected both professionally and personally. In our respective communities in Chicago and Toronto, we were working as  full time advocates for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Our lives in many ways continued to be synchronized.

On December 20, 2010 the path that Dan and I were on came to a significant crossroads. At the age of 29, I was told that I had cancer. I was forced to grapple with a life threatening illness, forced to stop making plans, and forced to live in the here and now. As I retreated into the depths of my illness, down a path that was painful and frightening, I quickly realized that  I was not alone.

Dan decided to follow me- and he was relentless. He called, texted, imed, and skyped regularly. He just kept showing up.He may not have known the perfect thing to say or do, but he just kept trying.  His capacity to love and give was overwhelming.

When I entered remission and finished treatment Dan continued to follow me. He followed me through the creation of Twist Out Cancer, he followed me to Israel where I was recently married and he followed me to Montreal to attend the Le Mood Festival. It was here, back home, in Montreal that Dan felt safe enough to articulate perhaps for the first time, what it was like for him to follow and not lead.

As I stood up in front of the audience and shared my story and my twist on cancer, Dan stepped up to the mic to share his. For the first time, I heard what it was like for him to support and navigate his best friend through the overwhelming darkness, the unexpected twists and turns, and the eventual re-entry back into the light.

As I listened to him articulate how deeply he was impacted by my illness, it became suddenly clear, that it was not I that was leading, it was Dan that I was following.

Sometimes it takes coming back home to realize how far you have come.  Thank you to the Schusterman Foundation and to Le Mood for the opportunity to listen, grow, learn, and follow.

Thank You Chubby.

It has been a year since I was tied up, strapped down, locked in.

A year since I finished treatment- a year since I tiptoed out of the shadows and into the sunlight -and a year since I left the hospital for what I hoped would be the very last time.

In the past year, I have chosen to experience the world in oscillating states of hyper-color. These moments are cherished, savored, and readily accessible.

These moments give me strength, provide guidance, and most importantly provide hope.

On Thursday May 10, 2012- one year after finishing treatment, we held a Twist Out Cancer fundraiser in Montreal – a city that I called home for nearly 7 years. In the last year this community nurtured and supported me in a way that I did not know was possible. With nearly 200 people in attendance- we were able to raise awareness and funds to help further Twist Out Cancer’s mission, and perhaps more importantly- I was finally able to say thank you.

As fate would have it- the same weekend Twist Out Cancer Touched Down in Montreal,- Chubby Checker planned to celebrate 50 years of the Twist.

This past Saturday night, at the Rialto Theatre, I took the stage with the man that helped inspire a movement- with the man that has been the focal point of my narrative-with the man that has helped show me that “life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but its about learning to dance in the rain.”

As we twisted- Cancer moved from center stage into the chorus.

As we twisted- the heaviness of the last year was lifted.

As we twisted- the pain that I endured softened.

Thank you Chubby for being a part of my past- but more importantly a part of my present and future.

Dancing with you was one of the best moments of my life.

You helped me find meaning in the suffering- and for that I am incredible grateful.