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Life Becomes Art: Cancer Survivor Awarded Top Prize in 2010 Oncology On CanvasSM Art Competition


Following her lung cancer diagnosis, a woman who had spent nearly 30 years in nursing felt as if her life had been "cut up, rearranged and become a different picture." An amateur artist, Annette Zalewski, of Peoria, AZ, sought to express her cancer journey on canvas by using a cut-up painting technique for the first time. Her mixed media entry, "Wild Water," took first prize among the more than 600 submissions to the fourth biennial Oncology On Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey Art Competition and Exhibition.

Lilly Oncology on Canvas
Slide Show
First Place: Wild Water by Annette Zalewski
1st Place Wild Water
Second Place: Breathing by Victoria Kelly
2nd Place Breathing
Third Place: No Words by Juliana Carvatt
3rd Place No Words
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The 2010 competition's 24 winning entries were announced at an awards presentation held at historic Union Station in Washington, D.C. Lilly Oncology On Canvas is presented by Lilly Oncology and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS). The biennial competition invites residents of the United States and Puerto Rico who have been touched by cancer – patients, family members, friends, caregivers and healthcare providers – to express, through art and narrative, the life-affirming changes that give their cancer journeys meaning. Winners' prizes consist of donations made in their name to the cancer-related charities of their choice. Since Lilly created the competition in 2004, more than 3,600 individuals have submitted artwork and narratives.

Thomas P. Sellers, MPA, president and CEO of NCCS, and Tim Cook, vice president of Lilly Oncology, presented the awards to the three Lilly Oncology On Canvas "Best of Exhibition" winners.

Mr. Cook commented on the life lessons gleaned from the top three Lilly Oncology On Canvas winners. "We continue to be amazed by the strength of the human spirit displayed year after year in Lilly Oncology On Canvas entries," said Mr. Cook. "We are grateful to those who were courageous enough to share their cancer journeys with others through their art and narratives. In so doing, they have reached out with understanding and hope to all of those affected by cancer who will experience our traveling exhibitions."

Life After a Lung Cancer Diagnosis
In accepting her "Best of Exhibition" award, Mrs. Zalewski noted that, when deciding to enter Lilly Oncology On Canvas, she chose to create an artwork using a cut-up technique – which begins with painting the image once, then painting it a second time in a slightly altered shape. Both paintings are then cut up, and the two images are woven together. "My artwork represents my two lives – before and after my lung cancer diagnosis," said Mrs. Zalewski. "My cancer journey has been like a sail down a river – at times, peaceful and tranquil, at other times, bumpy and turbulent. Yet, just like the river, I plan to continue moving along my path while weaving a beautiful life."

Noting that lung cancer research remains the least funded among the four major types of cancer, Mrs. Zalewski designated the Lung Cancer Alliance as the recipient of her $10,000 first-place award. The Lung Cancer Alliance is devoted solely to support and advocacy for all those living with or at risk for lung cancer. Mrs. Zalewski's entry also won first prize in two additional categories – "Best Overall Entry by a Person Diagnosed with Cancer" and "Best Mixed Media Entry by a Person Diagnosed with Cancer" – resulting in two additional $1,000 donations. She chose the National Lung Cancer Partnership to receive both. The organization is dedicated to raising public awareness of the disease and generating funding for lung cancer research.

Second prize in the "Best of Exhibition" category went to Victoria Kelly, an artist and cancer survivor from Baldwin, MI, for her artwork, "Breathing Room." In accepting her award, she discussed the genesis of her mixed media entry. "Following my lung cancer diagnosis, I needed to visualize what was happening inside my body through my art. So I created this collage of my lungs, surrounded by hope in the form of leaves and flowers. Hope and feeling positive were vital to me." Ms. Kelly was inspired to enter Lilly Oncology On Canvas after attending an exhibition of art from the 2008 competition.

Ms. Kelly chose the LUNGevity Foundation as the recipient of her $5,000 prize. The foundation funds promising research into the early detection and successful treatment of lung cancer.

Third place was awarded to Juliana Carvatt, a teacher and cancer survivor from Clinton, NJ, for her artwork, "No Words." Her mixed media entry features excerpts from a 150-page narrative she created about her cancer journey, which began with a diagnosis of melanoma at age 21. Upon accepting her award, Ms. Carvatt said, "Even after being declared cancer free, I kept my cancer a secret. But I soon realized how badly I needed to tell my story, so I wrote it down. One hundred and fifty pages later, I found that I had finally untangled myself from cancer's grip. I converted a few of those stories into my artwork, 'No Words.'"

First Descents was selected by Ms. Carvatt to receive her prize of $2,500. The organization works to help young adults cope with the emotional effects of cancer by experiencing outdoor adventure therapy through kayaking, rock climbing and other outdoor adventure sports.

In all, Lilly Oncology On Canvas awarded nearly $40,000 in prizes to cancer charities selected by the 20 winners in various categories. Artwork from the 2010 competition will begin touring cancer centers, hospitals and patient advocacy events nationwide beginning in January 2011.

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Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers – through medicines and information – for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Additional information about Lilly is available at