I was introduced to The Art of Life in 2014 by a friend heavily involved in the startup of the project. I had been recently diagnosed in late 2013 with MDS (a low-grade bone marrow cancer). I was looking for a way to become involved with a locally based cancer support organization that would somehow also appeal to my love and appreciation for the arts… and did this ever fit the bill for me!

My immediate family had been touched by cancer before. My youngest sister, Frannie, passed away in 1980 at the age of 29 from metastasized breast cancer. She was a burgeoning artist and the mother of a 2-year-old son. Cancer treatments at the time were horribly invasive and prognoses were very bleak!

In mid-April of 2015, my sister Cindy and I were about to embark on a life-long dream trip to Paris when she received a dreaded diagnosis of metastatic cholangiocarcinoma. She decided to forestall immediate treatment and we had our two-week “Paris Dream.”  Sadly, even though she immediately underwent extensive treatments here at home, she left us on October 8, 2015. She was also an incredibly talented artist whose beautiful works of art live on in all of our family & friends’ homes.

As you can probably surmise, The Art of Life’s mission, “To inspire people impacted by cancer to connect and heal through creative expression,” totally speaks to my heart! My family and I have continued to donate to this organization over many years.

We have our incredibly special double bench in The Healing Garden for our spiritual renewal and reflection. It’s a designated space for me when I have the need to visit my memories and thank God for both of my beautiful sisters’ lives!  Sitting in this lovely garden encourages and allows me to renew my own courage and resolve as I struggle with this disease!  The Healing Garden is a beautifully unique place for peaceful reflection and renewed hope for all of us who have suffered huge personal loss and to all of us who are surviving and thriving!  

My hope is to continue to support and increase awareness of this special project in Woodward Park. It has meant -and continues to mean- so much to those who hear about it, visit there, and become involved!

-Marilee Korsinen