By Marie McAden
Few people would look at cancer as an opportunity for enrichment. But then, most people aren’t like Arnetta Devlin.
“You don’t always get a choice in life,” said the five-year breast cancer survivor. “You have to take what you’re given and make the most of it. It’s all about attitude.”
Devlin took her positive outlook on cancer and turned it into an award-winning work of art.
“Attitude,” a three-dimensional quilt of a sunrise over stormy waters, was chosen for the Lilly Oncology on Canvas traveling exhibition recently on display at the Beaufort Memorial Keyserling Cancer Center.
Sponsored by Lilly Oncology and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the biennial competition was created in 2004 to allow those who have been touched by cancer to express their experiences through their art and a 125-word narrative.
Devlin, a 62-year-old math teacher at Beaufort Middle School, described losing her father to cancer 30 years ago and learning she had breast cancer at the age of 56. Although she did not relish having a lumpectomy and undergoing months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, her journey, she said, was not without its rewards.
“People did wonderful things for me without being asked,” said the Habersham resident. “I had great support from friends, co-workers and family.”
Her artwork reflects the positive side of the disease. Dark, choppy waters turn calm and bright. Above them is a rising sun and clouds with silver linings.
“I didn’t wallow in self pity,” said Devlin, who is retiring after 40 years of teaching. “I was going to beat it. I have too many things I want to do and I wasn’t going to miss out on them.”