Cindy Faust received a diagnosis of breast cancer 26 years ago. And while she is grateful to be a cancer survivor today, she still remembers the emotional impact that the diagnosis had on her life and her family.
“I remember the numb reality of the doctor’s words and relating them to my sister as I sat sobbing at my kitchen table,” says Cindy, a licensed clinical social worker.
Cindy, who paints as part of her own personal therapy, expressed some of the emotions she experienced as a cancer patient in a work entitled An Attitude of Gratitude. Her painting was one of 500 works of art selected from 2,000 entries to travel as part of an international exhibition to hospitals, cancer centers and art galleries. The exhibition, Lilly Oncology on Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey International Art Competition and Exhibition, is a tribute to everyone who has been touched by cancer.
Cindy described her watercolor as a stylized self-portrait, which was submitted with a narrative about how cancer changed her life.
“This artwork is an expression of the heartfelt gratitude I feel as I celebrate my 26th year as a breast cancer survivor. When I received my diagnosis, I was a 29-year-old bride of six weeks whose world was turned upside down. The cancer journey took me to many places along the way, and today I can proclaim with sincerity and humility that the disease that almost ended my life really saved my life… . My beautiful life is truly about the attitude of gratitude.”
The art competition has inspired Cindy to help create interest in therapeutic art expression. She will lead a series called Creative Arts for Healing, offered as part of The Dr. Diane Barton Complementary Medicine Program at the Cooper Cancer Institute.
“This series provides a therapeutic outlet for cancer patients, helping them explore and express feelings that can be difficult to put into words,” Cindy says. “The focus will be on the life enhancing and healing benefits of the creative process.”
Cindy also facilitates the Cooper Cancer Institute’s Live, Lunch and Learn Series. which provides useful information for cancer patients on how to cope with the medical and emotional aspects of the disease. On a daily basis, she works as a counselor specializing in helping individuals and families who are dealing with cancer-related issues. Even though she experienced her own cancer journey a long time ago, she is reminded everyday of the disease’s emotional toll.
The winners of the competition were announced in December at the Grand Finale and Awards Presentation in New York. In addition to meeting celebrity hosts Regis and Joy Philbin, the highlight of the evening was the opportunity to view all 500 works of art.
“The artwork was very moving,” Cindy says. “It was an intimate and personal glimpse into the lives of some very extraordinary people. I am honored to be a part of such an inspirational exhibit.”
Cindy lives with her husband and family in Cherry Hill, N.J.
For more information on Cindy, the Cooper Cancer Institute’s Creative Arts for Healing Series, or the Live, Lunch and Learn Series, please call The Dr. Diane Barton Complementary Medicine Program at (856) 325-6646.
The Cooper Cancer Institute programs include: The Breast Cancer Center, The Gynecologic Cancer Center, The Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, The Lung Cancer Center, The Lymphoma & Leukemia Center, The Genitourinary Cancer Center, The Genetics Cancer Center and The Dr. Diane Barton Complementary Medicine Program. Other programs that are under development include the Neuro-oncology Program and the Geriatric Oncology Program.