Meet Judy and Nir- An Unexpected Friendship

Nir and Judy might never have crossed paths had they not been paired through Brushes with Cancer, and yet as soon as the connection was made, a journey of friendship and openness began. Nir, an extraordinary young Israeli dancer, happened to cross paths with Alona, the chair of Brushes with Cancer in Tel Aviv, and was immediately convinced that this was the platform for sharing her story.

Judy, a talented artist, heard about the program through conversation with her daughter, who has worked with Twist out Cancer in the past. And so, two separate paths converged and the bond of Artist and Inspiration was formed. Judy and Nir both agreed to offer a small taste of their journey prior to the unveiling of the final art piece at Brushes With Cancer in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, March 13.  We are so grateful to be able to share this amazing story of their experiences with Brushes With Cancer.

How did you feel compelled to participate in the program? What motivated you to be part of this journey?


“Being a dance and a performance artist and having my body and soul go through so much in the past four years, as a result of being diagnosed and treated for cancer three times, I felt so inspired to enter this process and this story as a material for an art piece. For me, dealing with breast cancer and all the body-mind-spirit alterations that goes along with, made me feel as if my very being, my body, my mind, my identity and personality are all some kind of material that keeps changing, being designed, played with, altered, danced with by outside and inside forces. It made me feel like myself and my life are fluid and flexible as if it was some kind of material or art piece that is in an unending creation process that is comprised of the ongoing interaction and synthesis between constantly changing me and constantly changing and unexpected circumstances. For these reasons I had a growing need to bring forth the intensity of this experience and the different views on life, on myself and my relationship with the world that resulted from this, and try to communicate to other people, to another artist and to myself- through art.”


“I felt compelled to participate in the program as I feel its goals are so important. I have done art programs with cancer patients in the past, and have a number of friends who have had cancer. The goal of building a personal connection with someone was appealing to me.”

What has the storytelling process been like for you so far? What has been your creative process been like?


“It’s been more like a mutual sharing process. We share our stories, we get to know each other. It’s become very quickly much more about the human connection and bond between us than anything else. But still, telling the story keeps revealing it to me in new ways, it’s like re-learning it, understanding and seeing it in even more new ways and in new light.”


“Initially the connecting process was quite difficult as Nir was still going through treatment. However after our first meeting I knew that I had met a truly unique and inspiring person who I wanted to get to know. My creative process is difficult to describe. I am constantly thinking about this project and wondering how to translate all of this into a meaningful piece of art. My making sketches, painting fabric and trying out different ideas. My medium is textiles, which is a bit more challenging. I also  prefer abstract rather than realistic art, which makes the artwork more difficult for a viewer to understand.”

What were you most nervous about regarding the process?


“I was nervous about what would happen if we didn’t click, or that maybe my experiences and views will be too much to take in, or that there will be some taboos, or that we will have an extremely different artistic taste. Also about letting go of my story (or the story of our meeting) to become a piece of art in someone else’s hands that I have no direct influence on.”


“I was most nervous about my ability to do justice to this amazing woman and her story.”

What are you most looking forward to?


“Of course to see the final artwork! But also to be a part of the first event in Israel. To be in the company of all the wonderful people that shared their time, stories, and their art in order to make this project happen. I look forward to sharing the artwork and the experience with my family and friends and whoever else will come to see or hear about the project.  Also to continue to be in touch with Judy outside the boundaries of the project and to continue to share experiences together.”


“I am looking forward to my continuing relationship with Nir. I feel that we have a lot to learn from each other, and we just have a good time being together.”

Is there anything else you would like to share/pass on?


“I would like to share that I think Brushes with Cancer is an extremely important project  because it takes the story of dealing with cancer – all its pain, fear, confusion, beauty, complexity, and life changing experiences – and makes it into soil, into fertile ground, into the  very seeds of a new creation in the world. I think that there is no better and healing way to experience ourselves and the meaning of our experiences than by sharing them.”


“However the final art piece turns out, I feel honored to be part of this unique process. It is a project I would like to continue participating in.”  This connection, and the others made through Brushes With Cancer, is what this project is all about. The ability to form unexpected connections, unbreakable bonds, and unparalleled platforms to share powerful experiences.

For more information on Brushes with Cancer Tel Aviv please check out our website. The first annual art exhibition and gala will take place on Tuesday, March 13th at Beit Andromeda in Jaffa, Israel.

This interview was written by Jacquie Zaluda, freelance writer and Brushes with Cancer Tel Aviv Host Committee Member. Check out Jacquie’s website to read more about her and her work.  

Magic is Real- I Promise. See How We Twisted.

In this new chapter of survivorship, I have discovered that my reality, my world, my life, is in fact greater than the fantasies, hopes and dreams that I imagined and desperately held on to during my dance with Cancer.

As the days pass- and my heart, mind and body  grow stronger, I am continuously reminded that my real life is better than my imagination. The here and now is sweeter and richer than the life that once was.

On Thursday August 11th, 2011- 31 days day after my last round of chemotherapy, 230 of my friends, family, and supporters came to Twist Out Cancer.

As we twisted, bended, moved- because we can, because we should, because we must- we created and witnessed magic together.

Enveloped by a cocoon of love, kindness, generosity, and support, I twisted my way into a heightened reality.

I am still floating.

Throughout the night I tried to figure out ways to bottle up outpouring of emotion that was noticeably palatable.  As I tried to desperately hold on to these moments, for fear that they would leave, I came to the realization that these moments in time, these memories I cherish- will continue to live and breathe within me for the days to come as long as I need them, want them, and value them.  These beautiful, magical, miraculous moments will continue to help me fight, help me heal, and help me rebuild.

For those of you that were able to be apart of this magical evening- thank you from the bottom of my heart. To those of you that were twisting in spirit- we felt you. To those of you that were unable to attend because you were tied up, strapped down, locked up- we twisted for you.

Over the next few days, I will try to show you what lives inside my bottle of moments, my mind, my heart.  This entry will be evolutionary as the footage continues to pour in, and I manage to get better at capturing these moments.

As I try to show you what was created, I think you will agree that magic does exist, and is real.

On this night you joined me. You didn’t leave me hanging on the dance floor. You all showed me how my reality is bigger, brighter and better than my dreams.

Thank you for your guidance.

Thank you for being apart of it.

I will savor these moments in time for the rest of my life.

My Story

The Legendary Sam Barsh Performs “We’re Beatin Cancer”


Deanna and Sam Twist it Out!


Jonny Imerman, An Angel in the Flesh Twists it Out


Kate Garmey and her plus one are all up and twisted.


To those that are surviving, fighting, and those that are no longer with us.


Why I Twist- Thank you for moving, bending, twisting- because you can, because you should, because you must.


To See More Magical Moments Check Out These Online Albums – Thank you Ben Swislow -Thank you John Broughton– Thank you Tom Zamiar

Thank You Corporate Sponsors

The Hideout

Pow Gym

Public House

Cottage Flip Flops

Thank you to our Organizational and Media Partners

Imermans Angels


Cheeky Chicago

Julia Alison

Special Shout Outs

To my mom, dad, and sister Neely: thank you for holding me during the darkest of days, and giving me hope that tomorrow would be better than today.

To Sam Barsh, Jesse Palter, Deanna Neil, Jeff Parker, Andrew Vitale, Lauren, Trip Small, Austin Hartley Leonard, Anthony Ponce, and Jonny Imerman for your friendship, dedication and commitment to Twisting Out Cancer. You are all stars now and forever. Thank you for your friendship and love.

To Deborah Felix and Jacob Klippstein for documenting what twisting out Cancer looks, feels and sounds like.

To Hilda Karadsheh for your beautiful animation and love.

To Kate Garmey for your conceptual help and guidance. .

To my Lymphoma Soul Sisters Noreen Karadsheh and Karla Dunston, may we follow in each others footsteps now and forever, side by side, hand in hand.

I love you now and always.