“I have no relationship with cancer, none. We are not friends, no,” jokes Joni Goldstein, dance instructor and two-time cancer survivor. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 at the age of 57, and again last year at the age of 71.
Her niece, Joelle Bilow, recommended Goldstein participate in Twist Out Cancer’s 2020 Brushes with Cancer program. Twist Out Cancer is a nonprofit that provides support and healing to those affected by cancer through its creative arts programming. The charity’s Brushes with Cancer program matches an artist with a cancer previvor, fighter, survivor or caregiver as “artistic inspiration.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic has transitioned almost all charity events to an online venue, Twist Out Cancer swiftly adjusted their program. For the eighth annual event, which took place November 14, virtual guests enjoyed exclusive access to a virtual gallery, online auction and celebration.
Through the program, the inspiration meets with the artist to discuss their relationship to cancer. The artist then has a few months to create a piece of artwork that illustrates the experience of the person affected by cancer. The program culminates at a gala-style celebration where the artwork is revealed to the inspirations for the first time and then auctioned off to benefit the mission and work of the charity.
For Twist Out Cancer’s Brushes with Cancer program in Chicago, Goldstein was paired with artist Nancy Rosen. Goldstein adores Rosen, gushing, “I got paired up with my new best friend, Nancy, who I love and adore and we have so much fun together.” Rosen is a Chicago painter who has shown her work in galleries and exhibitions across the country. Her work has also appeared in movies and on television shows, most notably as Lily Tomlin’s paintings on the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie.”
Rosen revealed a breathtaking painting of Goldstein posing in a fierce ballet fourth position. The bright red color Rosen used in Goldstein’s clothing and the strength and grace vibrating through her arms perfectly depict her spirit. With one arm above her head, one arm out in front of her, and an optimistic smirk on her face, Rosen’s painting encapsulates the complexity of everything Goldstein has faced through and beyond her cancer.
The novel coronavirus has recently created barriers for socialization, especially for those affected by cancer, but Twist Out Cancer’s Brushes with Cancer program creates an opportunity for cancer previvors, fighters, survivors and supporters to come together in a new and beautiful way. Goldstein and Rosen are a true testament to that. Brushes with Cancer gifted Joni and Nancy with an undeniable bond of friendship that will last long beyond their experience with the program