Maria Kouns and Xia Laniel
The Story
Maria Kouns
Indianapolis, IN
Social Media: mariamcgillkouns (FB); @ma_kouns (IG)
Breast Cancer Survivor
Twist on Cancer: No one ever wants to hear the words “You have cancer.” Those words certainly changed my life ten-and-a-half years ago. After my diagnosis, the future seemed uncertain, and I took everything one day at a time. However, as I reflect now, I realize the good memories from my cancer journey greatly outnumber the bad ones. I recall the numerous acts of kindness and generosity of others and the priceless memories I made with family and friends. It was most definitely a fight. A battle to be sure. But as with most fights or battles, victory is sweet. I could not have predicted the course my ‘after cancer’ life would take. It certainly has been sweet. I want to thank Twist Out Cancer and Brushes with Cancer for providing me the opportunity to reflect upon my personal battle and journey. I appreciate the chance to share my story with others and allow it to be reflected in such a meaningful and creative way.
Xia Laniel
Longmont, CO
Social Media: @UVXii, @UVXiiArt
“Ave Maria”
Acrylic on canvas
18” x 24” x 7.5”
Artist Statement: "Ave Maria" is a depiction of my inspiration, Maria, and the qualities she possesses. Throughout her journey with breast cancer, Maria carried herself with quiet strength and resilience, setting an example for her students and peers alike. In the face of adversity, she remained calm and collected. Maria somehow knew she was in for the same journey as her mother and aunt before her. She knew what needed to be done, and surrendered to the process, taking it day by day. Maria was surrounded by a surplus of people who love and support her, and quickly learned how much she meant to her community. I believe her recovery was greatly influenced by the people around her; with such a strong support net, I feel there would be a quiet confidence and reassurance that all would be well in the end. To hear her reflect on how wonderful her time was in spite of the circumstances, is truly remarkable.

Maria is represented by the statue; her mother and aunt are constellations on either side, which illuminate under UV light. This is a nod to the Triple Goddess, which symbolizes the various phases a woman goes through in her lifetime. Her community is also revealed under UV, and are shown holding hands as they look upon the statue. A "rung" on the DNA curls lights up pink, to represent her BRCA1 mutation.

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