Through Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment and Recovery – Local Artist Features Exhibit at AJH

The Anna Jaques Hospital Aid Association “Art Wall” – located on the main corridor of the hospital – began as a modest fundraising effort in the mid 1990’s to transform bare wall space, enhance the experience at AJH for patients, staff, and visitors, and to support the hospital. Through the years, local scenes, landscapes, botanicals, and more, have been showcased along the corridor, with a percentage of the sales donated to the Aid Association.

A late summer exhibit however, by Margaret Bernier of Newburyport, had special meaning.

Margaret was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, and underwent surgeries in March and October. Her treatment regimen at AJH, under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Eneman of the Anna Jaques Cancer Center affiliated with BIDMC and Dr. Daphna Spiegel of Alliance Radiation Oncology at AJH, has included chemotherapy, radiation, and physical therapy, all provided throughout the pandemic.

She credits the thoughtful clinical care, kindness, and encouragement of her care team, who she says “forged a strong personal connection” and treated her like family, especially when her own spouse, Joanne, could not accompany her to treatment due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Margaret had committed to the show a year in advance, and despite being in the throes of recovery, she was determined to finish at least a dozen paintings for the exhibition. She credits the skill and perseverance of physical therapist Sarah Carrico, PT, CLT, for helping her to strengthen her shoulder and right arm, and to begin painting a series of marsh, dory and dinghy scenes for the show. She wanted to share her interpretations of our beautiful natural surroundings with others in a way that would resonate.

Margaret’s work was extremely popular. She sold eleven of the twelve paintings, and donated all proceeds to the Aid Association in gratitude for her entire care team.

“The gallery reminds people that there are local artists, and that art is important to our mental health and sense of place. The opportunity to capture and share this strong feeling of community, and to give back, is very rewarding for me,” said Margaret.

Visit www.ajh.org/cancer to learn more about comprehensive cancer programs at Anna Jaques Hospital.

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