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Portraits give hope to Spivey Station patients

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Southern Crescent Breast Specialists at Spivey Station in Jonesboro is going beyond traditional means to honor the survivors of breast cancer, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Recently, the treatment center premiered an art collection featuring the portraits of a diverse range of women, who have beaten breast cancer -- the majority of whom are former patients.

This fall, the center commissioned portrait artist, Luke Gandy, of Hattiesburg, Miss., to paint more than a dozen portraits featuring women from Clayton, Henry, Spalding, Fayette, Butts, and Pike counties, who were diagnosed with breast cancer at the center and have since recovered.

Susan Timbert, a registered nurse and the center's surgical coordinator and educator, said what started as an attempt to come up with a company logo evolved into a project which is still evolving.

"I needed more than one image to represent all women," said Timbert. "I chose breast cancer patients, with their permission, to be models. This would give the artwork more meaning.

"I wanted these pictures of women who look good and show them that there is life after breast cancer," Timbert said. "Other cancer patients could see the display and feel encouraged that these women have overcome adversity."

While playing on several themes of hope, each painting integrates the pink ribbon signifying National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Some portraits feature women wrapped in the ribbon, while others feature women pulling the ribbon out of a river, or reaching for it in the sky.

Gandy, whose mother and grandmother died of cancer, and whose sister presently suffers with uterine cancer, said he was honored to bring life to the center's vision.

"I was really honored that they chose me to convey some of their thoughts and ideas," said Gandy. "There was one [painting] with the woman reaching towards the breast cancer ribbon. To me, that represents hope.

"I thought it was a great idea that they would do something like this for the patients and the people who visit the hospital," Gandy continued. "I hope it will give them a sense of hope that there is a chance for a good recovery."

Timbert said the exhibit has been popular, and that several patients have requested for their portraits to be taken. She believes the exhibit takes away some of the fear associated with breast cancer.

"A cancer diagnosis does not always mean a bad outcome," said Timbert. "Most breast cancer patients do very well. The wall is an example of women who have gone through many trials and tribulations and become examples of encouragement for others."