Altus unveils "tree of life" mural

Altus unveils "tree of life" mural

On Jan. 17, Altus Cancer Center unveiled a new 66-canvas mural displayed on the wall of the radiation treatment room at the facility in honor of the center’s first birthday.

Cancer survivors and caregivers painted the mural during their October 2012 celebration “Leaving Your Mark on Cancer” held in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness month. Members of Painting with a Twist joined the group to assist with the project. Each participant painted a portion of the mural using a canvas outlined by the Painting with a Twist staff in order to form a magnificent tree. Each canvas is unique with many artists adding elements like angels, hearts or pink breast cancer awareness ribbons to their portions of the mural. On some canvases, the artists chose to pay tribute to loved ones lost as a result of cancer.

Former Mayor Evelyn Lord, Altus’ official spokesperson, welcomed those gathered at the celebration. She herself painted one of the 66 canvases making up the mural.

“That was a great deal of fun,” Lord said. “We had a great painting party. I painted a part of the sky. It will be interesting to see how it turned out. It expresses the individuality of the people who contributed.”

Gay-Lynne Jones, Registered Nurse and Regional Director of Cancer Services at Altus, said she believes the art will encourage patients of the treatment facility.

“For a long time I have wanted a mural on that wall,” Jones commented. “Patients undergoing treatment will see this wall painted by survivors. I believe it will be inspirational to them and bring hope and healing. We want them to say, ‘I too can beat this disease.’”

Cancer survivor Mary Williams addressed the crowd at the event.

“I was so proud to be a part of…painting the tree,” Williams said. “We painted something that became the Altus tree of life.”

An easel with photographs set up by Altus staff served as a memorial to participant Dorothy Blount, who painted one of the 66 pieces of the mural. Blount passed away about a month ago, but friends and Altus staff remember her well.

“There is always a beginning and an end to every journey,” Jones said. “Dorothy was a very uplifting person. She was described the staff here as ‘a ray of sunshine.’ She will be missed.”

Altus Cancer Center is located at 310 11th Street in Beaumont and provides treatment for cancer patients. In addition to providing care for their patients, Altus also serves the community with educational seminars for local businesses, schools, civic organizations and other groups to increase cancer awareness.