“I was surprised at how deep it could get.”

Ishita Banerjee, Artist

Ishita, a thyroid cancer survivor battled feelings of isolation through her diagnosis and treatment. She successfully launched a career as an artist, rediscovering joy and navigating depression. A friend of Twist Out Cancer purchased one of her gallery pieces and she was invited to participate in the 2018 program. Ishita, without hesitation, embraced the opportunity as an artist.  She felt it was the perfect way for her to give back after receiving endless support during her cancer battle.

Virginia Champoux, Inspiration

As a breast cancer survivor and widow, Virginia learned to be an open advocate for patients and their families. She sought out unique opportunities to share her experience and talents, connecting with numerous organizations. When a Facebook friend tagged her in a Twist Out Cancer post, she learned about Brushes with Cancer and applied to participate as an Inspiration.  Virginia was open to sharing her story but skeptical about who she might be paired with and what kind of art would emerge.

The Journey

Ishita and Virginia were matched by the program, and over the next months, met in person and by phone. A vibrant connection between them quickly blossomed. Virginia was delighted to find that Ishita’s artistic style matched her taste with elements of Scandinavian design and Mid-century themes. Both mothers, professionals and survivors they found a way to share, connect and heal. The two had long conversations about their grief and fears, but also shared powerful moments of laughter and hope.

Fueled by the new friendship, Ishita started with a sketch and quickly completed an original work that thoughtfully represented Virginia’s story.  “As an artist, I can tell that Virginia’s story will stay with me forever. Participating in Brushes has been a life-changing event. I know that I will always seek her support and advice and that we will be friends for life. I aspire to be her.”

“I was surprised at how deep it could get,” Virginia said. She showed her daughter the artwork and was moved when she immediately recognized the imagery as her own family’s story.

The pair look forward to the unveiling of the piece on May 10th and learning the stories of others in the program. Ishita’s mother will travel from India to attend the event and Virginia will be accompanied by her children.

As a Brushes with Cancer Inspiration, Virginia describes the experience as, “a chance to make something beautiful out of something ugly and difficult.”

Twist Out Cancer is proud to bring Brushes with Cancer to Montreal and we invite you to join us May 10 at the Rialto Theatre. Brushes with Cancer provides psychosocial support to those touched by cancer to improve the quality of life for cancer patients, their family and loved ones, through a unique art experience.

Twist Out Cancer paired 23 artists with 23 survivors, previvors, and caregivers, and challenged the artists to create original works of art influenced by their inspirations unique “twists” on cancer. Over the last six months, our pairs have been working closely together. These unexpected relationships developed into systems of support and a place for healing. The artwork honors the inspirations’ experiences with cancer but it also celebrates the new relationship that has since developed. We honor their journeys and celebrate the importance of storytelling and utilizing the arts as a mechanism for healing.

To Purchase Tickets to Brushes with Cancer : www.brusheswithcancermontreal.com







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.