Art competition helps cancer patients tell their stories

The American Cancer Society reports that there are nearly 12 million cancer survivors alive today in the U.S. alone. In addition, there are millions more who love and care for them.

The common thread that unites them is the fact that each person is on a cancer journey with a story to tell that can inspire others.

Lilly Oncology On Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey is a biennial art competition that invites individuals from the United States and Puerto Rico, diagnosed with any type of cancer – as well as their families, friends, caregivers and healthcare providers – to express, through art and narrative, the life-affirming changes that give their cancer journeys meaning. Presented by Lilly Oncology and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), the 2012 competition is now underway, with entries due by June 29, 2012.

Since the competition’s inception in 2004, more than 3,600 individuals have shared their journeys. Much of the submitted artwork has traveled across the United States and Puerto Rico in exhibitions at cancer centers, hospitals and patient advocacy groups that have inspired thousands of people along the way.

“We are whole people, comprised of biological, spiritual, emotional and psychological parts,” said Richard Payne, M.D., NCCS Immediate Past Chair, and an internationally known expert in the areas of pain relief, care for those near death, oncology and neurology. “Oncology On Canvas(SM) recognizes this fact by providing anyone affected by cancer with a platform to express often unspoken emotions, resulting in artwork that moves and inspires.”

“If you or someone you care for has heard the three words, ‘You have cancer,’ then you know firsthand that cancer can change the lives of patients and everyone around them,” said Newt Crenshaw, vice president, Lilly Oncology. “Lilly Oncology On Canvas has become an important way for cancer patients, oncologists, oncology nurses and so many others to share their stories of hope and despair, loss and survival, and countless other emotions.”

The 2012 competition invites entries from three categories: person diagnosed with cancer; family member, friend or caregiver; and healthcare professional. Original artwork that depicts one’s cancer journey can be submitted in one of six media: watercolor, oil, pastel, photography, acrylic or mixed media. The artwork must be accompanied by a narrative that describes the cancer journey depicted in the artwork. Winners in 24 categories will be chosen by an independent panel of judges. Prizes consist of donations to cancer-related charities selected by the winners, ranging from $ 1,000 to $ 10,000.

For more information about Lilly Oncology On Canvas, including official rules, entry forms and a gallery of previous entries, visit The website also has useful videos that explain each of the categories, as well as “getting started” videos. You may also call 1-866-991-LOOC (5662) or e-mail with questions. To learn more about cancer survivorship tools and resources, visit the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) website at

So get your canvases, paintbrushes and cameras ready – the subject is cancer and you are the storyteller. And, remember, you don’t have to be a professional artist or writer. It’s the sharing of the story that counts.