This painting narrates the personal story of Thanh-Lan Nguyen. Lan has survived stage 4 Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, twice. She was first diagnosed in 2011. She endured 6 months of chemotherapy before finally becoming cancer free. She had two years in remission, but sadly relapsed in 2014. Her treatment consisted of maintenance chemo, chemo and a bone marrow transplant. Lan was in the hospital for 3 straight months from May till she was again cancer free in July. Throughout Lan’s battle with cancer she remained a pillar of strength and positivity for herself, her family and her now husband. She was determined to heal and move forward. She never once gave into self-pity so much so that she became an anomaly and was admired by many including her doctor. To this day, he takes the time to follow up with her personally.

-The scars on her chest are from her treatment. She wears them proudly; Lan states that they “remind me of what I have endured and the uncertainty of my cancer returning”. -In her hand is the chemo port that was embedded in her chest in order to receive treatment directly to her heart. Over time, veins may become too damaged to run an IV. This symbolizes her painful and tumultuous path to health, showing how incredibly invasive her treatments were but how they are also a gift (as illustrated by her hand gesture).

-Lan’s is Vietnamese-American, native to Albuquerque. She is shown wearing a traditional Vietnamese gown (the Ao Dai) and an engagement headdress. The Vietnamese headdress is used to assist a future couple in presenting their partners to each other’s ancestors. Lan’s relationship to her partner, Joey Sena, began in 2008. They were engaged just before becoming aware of Lan’s relapse and were also notified that she had to undergo a transplant, so they immediately got married out of fear that she would not survive the procedure. Because of this, Lan was deprived of the traditional engagement ceremony she had hoped for. In wearing the engagement garments for the painting; Lan states, “This signifies my strength and resilience of taking back a moment that was taken away from me.”

-Behind Lan is the Vietnamese symbol for happiness. Before she was diagnosed she was more timid and reserved but now after her experience she has made a conscious effort to live the life she wants, filled with family, friends adventure, complete self-love and gratitude. She has chosen to be happy because, unlike most, she now understands how delicate live is and that it should be celebrated, not taken for granted. “I would not be who I am today without [experiencing the disease]. I am thankful to be able to be alive to say that I am grateful to have experienced cancer the way that I have”.

-The Painting’s design elements are in gold and 3 variations of teal, her favorite color. When testing for cancer, Hodgkins lymphoma shows up as purple. I blended a touch of purple to the darkest teal to symbolize that this experience enriched her life as the purple did the teal. In the medium value of teal I added a tad more blue, because Lan’s full name, Thanh-Lan Nguyen, meaning Blue Orchid. In the lightest color I added more white and yellow to make it a light green representing life. I used gold to represent Lan’s character and beauty, like gold, she is solid but not hard. “I’m presenting myself as the strong survivor that is not a cancer patient but rather a person living with cancer.”

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Oil Painting on Wood.


  • Created : 2016
  • SOLD
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