Brushes with Cancer art program offers human connection and the power to heal

The human bond. This is never more important than when someone is in pain or in need of help.

And when someone is diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like the loneliest place. This is when the loving support of friends and family is most needed – to offer words of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold.

Even the kindness of strangers can make a big difference between a good day or a bad one.

Twist Out Cancer, founded in 2012 by cancer survivor Jenna Benn Shersher of Glencoe, brings together those affected by cancer – survivors, survivors and caregivers – with artists to share their journeys through the beauty of art.

The artist and Inspiration, as they are called, spend time together, connect, feel, share. The artist then spends five months creating a unique piece of art based on how they view Inspiration’s cancer journey.

It all culminates with an exhibition in November. Anyone wishing to participate in this program can visit before Monday, February 28.

Joshua Taustein, director of marketing and communications for Twist Out Cancer, tells more about the organization and this program.

Q: What is Twist Out Cancer? Give a brief overview of what the organization does and who you serve.


A. Twist Out Cancer provides psychosocial support to cancer survivors and their loved ones through creative arts programs. The organization was built on the belief that when you share, the world opens up.

It was founded 10 years ago by Jenna Benn Shersher, who is from Glencoe and was diagnosed with gray zone lymphoma at the age of 29. When she finished her treatment, she knew she wanted to give back in a meaningful way.

She recognized the power of sharing and the importance of creating a supportive community that meets the psychosocial needs of people affected by cancer. Thus, Twist Out Cancer was born.

Q: Where do most of your donations come from?

A. Twist Out Cancer’s work is made possible by generous individual donors.

Q: How many people do you serve per year?

A. Since its inception in 2012, Twist Out Cancer has positively impacted over 146,000 people. This includes 1,170 people who participated in our Brushes with Cancer program as an inspiration or artist, which led to 580 unique works of art that were created to represent 580 individual journeys with cancer.

Q: Tell us about the Brushes with Cancer program? Who can participate?

A. The Brushes with Cancer program matches Inspirations (preventors, survivors and caregivers) with artists, who create a unique work of art that reflects their personal journey with cancer.

The individual who has been touched by cancer shares their “cancer twist” — stories, feelings and experiences — with the artist, who serves as inspiration for the art. The program concludes with an art exhibition and celebratory event for participants, their families and the community.

The 2022 Midwestern program will take place on Saturday, November 12 as a hybrid event – ​​with an in-person event at Moonlight Studios, 1446 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, and a virtual program to accompany it.

Inspirations have an exclusive auction window to purchase the artwork. Once completed, the auction is open to the public.

Inspirations and artists from the Chicago area and around the world can apply to be part of the free program at

Applications will be accepted until Monday, February 28.

Q: What else would you like readers to know?

A. In addition to its Brushes with Cancer program, Twist Out Cancer also offers Twistshops, which are art therapy programs that aim to find additional avenues to promote healing, relaxation and emotional recovery through interventions. creative for people affected by cancer.

Over the past year, they have included art therapy sessions, a weekly meditation series, sound bowl treatments, yoga, and creative journaling.

More information about upcoming virtual Twistshops can be found at

Kayleen C. Rice