In mid-November, Judy Elsley, Ph.D., of Ogden, Utah won the fifth Lilly Oncology on Canvas art competition with a quilt she entered titled, “Chemo.” In her quilt, Dr. Elsley showed the journey of chemotherapy through her bloodstream as her body recovered from cancer and moved toward good health. Different colored beads were incorporated in her piece to represent cancer and the chemotherapy fighting it; white signified healthy white blood cells. Barely any white beads are seen in the first panel, but by the end of the piece, only white beads are left.
Dr. Elsley won the $10,000 grand prize for her quilt and two additional separate prizes for “Best Entry by a Person Diagnosed with Cancer” and “Best Mixed Media by a Person Diagnosed with Cancer” each worth $1,000. Dr. Elsley donated $11,000 of her prize winnings to Casting for Recovery, a program for current cancer patients and survivors that allows them to participate in fly fishing retreats with other affected women.
As a breast cancer survivor, Dr. Elsley was a recent participant in the program which is a new therapeutic sport for the participants. They gather in a natural setting, meet new friends, exchange information and build a support network there.
Quilting was also something that had become a therapeutic activity for Dr. Elsley after she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago as the press release from Lilly Oncology on Canvas states:
…for a college professor from Utah, quilting became a form of healing. It was something Judy Elsley, Ph.D., had enjoyed doing for years, but it took on new meaning after she heard these words, “You have breast cancer.” In fact, it helped bring back normalcy to a life that had been uprooted by her diagnosis, a cancer journey she conveyed in a mixed media artwork entitled “Chemo,” which took first prize among the more than 500 submissions to the fifth Lilly Oncology On Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey Art Competition and Exhibition.