Cancer survivor turns masks from Barrington hospital into art to inspire patients

During her weekday trips to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington for breast cancer treatment, Sandra Fink May found inspiration in the plastic mesh masks used to keep the heads of patients still during cancer radiation.

A professional painter, sculpture and jeweler from Richmond in McHenry County, May said she wanted to use the masks to create artwork meant to help others dealing with the emotional unrest of being diagnosed with cancer.

She said she reached out to both hospital staff in Barrington and patients for the project. After the patients agreed to donate about 25 masks, May went to work following her own cancer radiation treatments for breast cancer last summer.

“I saw those forms and I wanted to create something good out of my experience with cancer,” May said. “This art creates a dialogue for others on their personal experiences with the same ordeal.”

May said she used the masks to make three-dimensional portraits on canvases, featuring materials such as painted cloth and peacock feathers. She finished with 10 different art pieces, ranging in size from 14-inches-by-11-inches to 40-inches-by-50-inches.

At Good Shepherd Hospital, May’s pieces recently were part of an exhibit, called “Portraits of Perpetuity,” during an open house for the hospital’s new Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator, which provides radiation therapy to cancer patients.

Kathleen Trohe, manager of public affairs and marketing for Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, said May would bring photographs of her art pieces to share during her follow-up visits with her oncologist.

“They thought the photos were beautiful, but they had no idea how truly stunning they were until they saw them at the open house,” Trohe said.

May also is considering donating one of the pieces to the hospital, so it can be displayed in the radiation oncology department, she said.

“For the hospital, by letting her display art where she had radiation therapy seemed like a nice thing to do for her,” Trohe said.

May said she plans to show her art elsewhere and donate the sale proceeds to cancer research.

“The three-dimensional aspect of this art makes their surfaces come at you, while using shadows and light,” May said.

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Original Date: August 8 2017

Original Author: Todd Shields