In 2011, painter Reinhold Schwenk was diagnosed with throat cancer. Although the side effects of treatment left Schwenk weak, his oncologist, Dr. Krzysztof Misiukiewicz, encouraged Schwenk to pursue painting as a creative outlet.
The seven resulting paintings are now on display on the third floor of the Derald H. Ruttenberg Center in the Hess Center for Science and Medicine. The paintings (titled Diagnosis, Surgery, Chemo, Radiation, Waiting, Clean, and Hope) represent the stages of the artist’s cancer journey, from diagnosis to survival.
“The exhibit documents my experience going through the arduous treatments and the subsequent healing process. I’m thrilled to be able to share with my doctors, nurses and caregivers, as well as fellow patients past and present,” says Reinhold Schwenk. He continues to be involved with other patients by serving as a mentor for newly diagnosed head and neck cancer patients, and his paintings continue to foster conversation amongst patients, staff, and visitors. Pausing in front of a painting titled “Radiation,” one patient commented, “Radiation was the most difficult part for me.”
Batya Reckson, LCSW, a social worker who helped organize the exhibit, describes the work as a way of making meaning out of a challenging life experience. “It is rewarding to do something creative and life-affirming and have a patient be able to give back with gratitude,” she says.
Dr. Misiukiewicz says, “What I like about this is that not only does it show you the sequence of the treatment but at the end there’s hope – and for cancer patients, this is very important.”
For an inside look at Reinhold’s series by Blouin ARTINFO, click here.