Meet Brushes with Cancer Artist Alumni – Doug Jones

MEET Doug Jones, a professional artist with a background in non-profit work. He is a veteran Brushes with Cancer participant who has been involved since its inception. Doug says he met Jenna (the founder) through a mutual college friend and “she was so lovely to be around that we connected immediately”. Specializing in Wonder Woman art, Doug’s first Brushes piece was for Noreen who had received a Wonder Woman figurine in the mail the day before she was diagnosed. Since then, Doug became a strong believer in the benefits of the program and he has not only participated in all of the Brushes events, but he also assisted with planning the first Michigan Brushes event, and is hoping to get a Detroit event on the calendar soon.

“My background is in psychology.” Jones says. “Mainly trauma and resilience-oriented therapy. I have used art therapy a lot and I have seen the benefits of art in therapeutic efforts.” The biggest benefit of the program, in his eyes, is that “people can see they are not alone.” An important aspect of healing therapy after any trauma is to find individuals who have had similar experiences. “This is a great reminder that people live through and with this all the time. A diagnosis is not a death sentence,” he emphasizes. “I think those are the two biggest benefits [of the Brushes program]: the sense of belonging and understanding that this is not a death sentence.”

Doug goes on to say that “

“My involvement with Twist has been such a journey. I wasn’t sure if Jenna was going to survive that first year, and it was such an emotional experience. I have a unique sense of joy just watching [Twist Out Cancer] grow. From participating, to being on the host committee, it has been just such an incredible journey.” Doug speaks fondly about the organization as if he is a proud father, watching his baby grow and expand and do good in the world.

To someone who is considering participating, Jones offers his own takeaway from being part of the Brushes with Cancer family: “I have seen insights – each of my people have shared things with me that they feel they can’t share with anyone. There is something about the idea that I am a stranger, and because of the purpose of the project they feel they have been able to share things with me. Those true insights into their personal experiences are the things I cherish the most. I would not have known these people, many of whom have become friends, without this program.”




It has been quite a ride the last 18 months. Some would say it was colored by hardship and trauma, others may argue it was highlighted by triumph and strength.  Depending on where you start and where you finish,  I would argue it was and is all of the above.

There have been many transformations, many juxtapositions, many changes over the course of the last 18 months.

From tied up to untied, from the shadows to the sunlight, from sickness to health- I have seen it all.

And here- in this online space- I have captured these transformations, isolated these moments in time, portrayed these hardships and triumphs in a way that is unique, that is my own, that is at my disposal for a rainy or sunny day.

In this new phase of survivorship, cancer is mostly positioned in the chorus as opposed to center stage. She is no longer singing ballads on her own, but rather hums at a low murmur.  While I have learned to expect and accept that she may never be silent, I am also grateful that on most days she no longer overpowers.  Her role in the chorus is to highlight and support the lead, a postion that she is better suited for, and that I am more comfortable with.

My relationship with her is in a constant state of flux. There are days when I am overwhelmingly grateful for the experience, and for the new set of spectacles I have to see the world. And then- there are  days, where she tricks me into hunting for tumors in my neck and chest, and she fools me into thinking that my scar tissue is yet another mass.

And so here I am 18 months later with a new set of eyes for which to see the world, but with residual scars that lie beneath.

Perhaps I couldn’t have experienced the triumph and strength, without the hardship and trauma.

And perhaps my experience with cancer, will be yet another experience that I draw upon for my next challenge, my next hardship, my next victory.

To learn more about my transformations click here.