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Making art out of second chances

Marilee was living an idyllic retirement in rural Indiana, exploring pastel painting and caring for two of her grandchildren. She had no idea she was sick when she was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia.

Construction had just begun on her art studio and Marilee started to think she’d never be able to use it. Her only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant.

In fact, Marilee ended up needing two transplants because the first engraftment didn’t take. Fortunately, her hero donor stepped up, for a second time, to give Marilee the gift of life—this time it “stuck”.

Since her second transplant in June 2018, Marilee has been relishing the role of grandmother (soon to be great-grandmother). “As a grandparent, I get to be more fun—I don’t have to be the rule maker,” Marilee said. She’s also been focusing more on her art, “I figure if I don’t do it now, I’m not going to do it,” she shared.

In April of this year, she had record sales and record attendance—including her oncologist and nurses who cared for her—at her first solo gallery show. “I kept seeing the ‘sold’ stickers going on my paintings and couldn’t believe it,” Marilee said. “I was on a high for a few weeks—it’s hard to put into words.”

Marilee got to experience that high once again in August when she was awarded first prize for her cityscape, Sunday Morning Snow, in a regional art competition sponsored by the Southeastern Indiana Art Guild.

When it comes to future goals, Marilee says hers aren’t very big. “My reward is going out to my art studio and feeling like I’m growing and improving—seeing a difference in my paintings over time,” she said. “My goal is to just keep going.”

To see some of Marilee’s beautiful pastel work, visit her gallery website. If you’d like to help make sure more patients like Marilee find their life-saving match, please consider a gift today.