Cancer Support Community Arizona, a Phoenix-based nonprofit that delivers free support services, programming, and resources to cancer patients and their families, is kicking off National Cancer Survivor Month with a moving art exhibit that gives a creative voice to the women and men who have journeyed through cancer diagnoses, treatments, and successes.
Opening to the public Friday, June 11, at 5 p.m., at the West Valley Arts Council Gallery (16126 N. Civic Center Plaza, Surprise 85374), the “From Darkness to Light” exhibit features 19 custom thermoplastic masks used during radiation therapy for individuals with head and neck cancers. Local artists haven taken and transformed the masks into heart-wrenching pieces of art that honor the resiliency of the cancer patients who have worn them.
Each custom mesh mask was molded to the face of an actual cancer patient undergoing treatment. When cancer patients receive radiation treatment for head or neck cancer, they wear the mesh mask to ensure that their head and body hold still and are kept in the same position. This stringent requirement often results in patients struggling as they experience a loss of control, which can trigger feelings of panic and claustrophobia.
With each mask on display impressed with the actual face of a cancer patient, the exhibit puts greater context around the unbreakable spirit and determinization of every individual who has been diagnosed with cancer. From a mask transformed into an inspirational Wonder Woman theme to other masks that incorporate elements of nature to celebrate life, every piece comes with a moving narrative that conveys the story of the person behind the mask.
This is the first public stop for the exhibit. Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Goodyear and Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale have had the artwork on display this year; however, the art was exclusively viewed by patients and their families at these locations. When the exhibition at the West Valley Arts Council Gallery ends in July, Cancer Support Community Arizona will bring the artwork to other public spaces across the state to bring greater awareness to the critical support services and resources it provides to patients, caregivers, and their families.
“From Darkness to Light” runs from June 11 through July 9 and is open to the public. Admission is free.
Visitors must follow West Valley Arts Council’s COVID-19 protocols, including mask-wearing and social distancing. As well, there will be a limit of 50 people in the gallery at one time.
Exhibit opens to the public at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 11 (and will be open on this day until 7 p.m.).
It will be open Friday, June 11 to Friday, July 9, 2021
– Wednesday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
– Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
– Sunday to Tuesday: Closed
This year’s National Cancer Survivor Month observance is especially important in light of the nearly 10 million delayed cancer screening appointments due to the pandemic, according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer Support Community Arizona estimates that there was a 40% to 50% drop in preventative cancer screenings in Arizona last year. This year, Arizona is on pace to see nearly 40,000 new cases of cancer and more than 12,500 deaths.