Life Becomes Art: Cancer Survivor Awarded Top Prize in 2010 Oncology On Canvas(SM) Art Competition

Katie Couric Receives Ellen Stovall Award for Work as Cancer Advocate

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Following her lung cancer diagnosis, a woman who had spent nearly 30 years in nursing felt as if her life had been "cut up, rearranged and become a different picture."  An amateur artist, Annette Zalewski, of Peoria, Ariz., sought to express her cancer journey on canvas by using a cut-up painting technique for the first time.  Her mixed media entry, "Wild Water," took first prize among the more than 600 submissions to the fourth biennial Oncology On Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey Art Competition and Exhibition.  

The 2010 competition's 24 winning entries were announced tonight at an awards presentation held at historic Union Station in Washington, D.C.  Lilly Oncology On Canvas is presented by Lilly Oncology and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS).  The biennial competition invites residents of the United States and Puerto Rico who have been touched by cancer – patients, family members, friends, caregivers and healthcare providers – to express, through art and narrative, the life-affirming changes that give their cancer journeys meaning.  Winners' prizes consist of donations made in their name to the cancer-related charities of their choice.  Since Lilly created the competition in 2004, more than 3,600 individuals have submitted artwork and narratives.

Katie Couric Named First Recipient of Ellen Stovall Award

A special highlight of the evening was the presentation of the inaugural Ellen Stovall Award to Katie Couric, anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and host of @katiecouric, a weekly web show.  The award was created by Lilly Oncology and NCCS in honor of Ellen Stovall, a tireless advocate for cancer survivors and former president and CEO of NCCS.  The award recognizes those who use their art and/or celebrity to be, like Ms. Stovall, "a true champion and advocate for cancer survivorship."  

After losing her husband to cancer in 1998, Ms. Couric embraced the fight against colon cancer.  She co-founded Stand Up To Cancer and launched the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance in 2000 in association with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Lilly Tartikoff.  Ms. Couric also played a leadership role in establishing The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell.  In 2000, her on-air colonoscopy led to a 20-percent increase in the number of colonoscopies performed across the country, and she received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for her series on colon cancer.

Thomas P. Sellers, MPA, president and CEO of NCCS, and Tim Cook, vice president of Lilly Oncology, presented the awards to Ms. Couric and the three Lilly Oncology On Canvas "Best of Exhibition" winners.

Mr. Sellers noted the Ellen Stovall Award made this year's event particularly gratifying.  "Since Lilly Oncology On Canvas is a celebration of life in the face of cancer, it provided the perfect opportunity to honor Ellen Stovall for her remarkable life of service to cancer survivors.  Our first recipient, Ms. Couric, is someone who has, like Ellen, been a leader in cancer advocacy – educating millions about cancer awareness, early detection and treatment."

Mr. Cook commented on the life lessons gleaned from the top three Lilly Oncology On Canvas winners.  "We continue to be amazed by the strength of the human spirit displayed year after year in Lilly Oncology On Canvas entries," said Mr. Cook.  "We are grateful to those who were courageous enough to share their cancer journeys with others through their art and narratives.  In so doing, they have reached out with understanding and hope to all of those affected by cancer who will experience our traveling exhibitions."

Life After a Lung Cancer Diagnosis

In accepting her "Best of Exhibition" award, Mrs. Zalewski noted that, when deciding to enter Lilly Oncology On Canvas, she chose to create an artwork using a cut-up technique – which begins with painting the image once, then painting it a second time in a slightly altered shape.  Both paintings are then cut up, and the two images are woven together.  "My artwork represents my two lives – before and after my lung cancer diagnosis," said Mrs. Zalewski.  "My cancer journey has been like a sail down a river – at times, peaceful and tranquil, at other times, bumpy and turbulent.  Yet, just like the river, I plan to continue moving along my path while weaving a beautiful life."

Noting that lung cancer research remains the least funded among the four major types of cancer, Mrs. Zalewski designated the Lung Cancer Alliance as the recipient of her $10,000 first-place award.  The Lung Cancer Alliance is devoted solely to support and advocacy for all those living with or at risk for lung cancer.  Mrs. Zalewski's entry also won first prize in two additional categories – "Best Overall Entry by a Person Diagnosed with Cancer" and "Best Mixed Media Entry by a Person Diagnosed with Cancer" – resulting in two additional $1,000 donations.  She chose the National Lung Cancer Partnership to receive both.  The organization is dedicated to raising public awareness of the disease and generating funding for lung cancer research.  

Second prize in the "Best of Exhibition" category went to Victoria Kelly, an artist and cancer survivor from Baldwin, Mich., for her artwork, "Breathing Room."  In accepting her award, she discussed the genesis of her mixed media entry.  "Following my lung cancer diagnosis, I needed to visualize what was happening inside my body through my art.  So I created this collage of my lungs, surrounded by hope in the form of leaves and flowers.  Hope and feeling positive were vital to me."  Ms. Kelly was inspired to enter Lilly Oncology On Canvas after attending an exhibition of art from the 2008 competition.  

Ms. Kelly chose the LUNGevity Foundation as the recipient of her $5,000 prize.  The foundation funds promising research into the early detection and successful treatment of lung cancer.

Third place was awarded to Juliana Carvatt, a teacher and cancer survivor from Clinton, N.J., for her artwork, "No Words."  Her mixed media entry features excerpts from a 150-page narrative she created about her cancer journey, which began with a diagnosis of melanoma at age 21.  Upon accepting her award, Ms. Carvatt said, "Even after being declared cancer free, I kept my cancer a secret.  But I soon realized how badly I needed to tell my story, so I wrote it down.  One hundred and fifty pages later, I found that I had finally untangled myself from cancer's grip.  I converted a few of those stories into my artwork, 'No Words.'"

First Descents was selected by Ms. Carvatt to receive her prize of $2,500.  The organization works to help young adults cope with the emotional effects of cancer by experiencing outdoor adventure therapy through kayaking, rock climbing and other outdoor adventure sports.

In all, Lilly Oncology On Canvas awarded nearly $40,000 in prizes to cancer charities selected by the 20 winners in various categories.  Artwork from the 2010 competition will begin touring cancer centers, hospitals and patient advocacy events nationwide beginning in January 2011.

To Learn More

For further information on Lilly Oncology On Canvas, an exhibit schedule and more, visit, call 1-866-991-LOOC (5662), or e-mail [email protected].  Also, follow Oncology On Canvas on Twitter (, Facebook ( and YouTube ( To learn more about cancer survivorship tools and resources, visit the NCCS website at

About National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS)

The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) advocates for quality cancer care for all Americans and provides tools that empower people affected by cancer to advocate for themselves.  NCCS created the widely accepted definition of survivorship and considers someone a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis through the balance of life.  Its free publications and resources include the award-winning Cancer Survival Toolbox®, a self-learning audio program created by leading cancer organizations to help people develop essential skills to meet the challenges of their illness.  Since 2004, NCCS has been the co-presenter of the Lilly Oncology On Canvas Art Competition and Exhibition.  More information is available at or 1-888-650-9127.

About Lilly

Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations.  Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers – through medicines and information – for some of the world's most urgent medical needs.  Additional information about Lilly is available at


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SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company