Por­trait of giv­ing back

Artist sell­ing paint­ings to help can­cer pa­tients trav­el­ling for treat­ment

The News (New Glasgow) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CAROL DUNN

When Doug Guthro and his wife re­turned from a stay at The Lodge That Gives, he was walk­ing around his house while she was rest­ing, and got an idea.

“I was look­ing at all of the pic­tures. It just hit me, I know what I’m go­ing to do.”

Guthro is a self-taught artist who be­gan paint­ing 17 years ago. Since then, he es­ti­mates he’s com­pleted about 250 paint­ings. The art was hang­ing on the walls of his Alma home, with about 60 dis­played in one room alone. “You couldn’t see the walls.”

On Sept. 23 he will sell 100 of them to raise funds to sup­port Pic­tou County can­cer pa­tients who have to travel to Hal­i­fax for treat­ment.

He said he wants to give back af­ter the won­der­ful care he and his wife re­ceived when they stayed at The Dr. Su­san K. Roberts Lodge That Gives, a res­i­dence where can­cer pa­tients can stay while un­der­go­ing treat­ment.

“It’s some place. They’re fan­tas­tic down there,” said Guthro’s wife Mar­garet, who is bat­tling her third can­cer di­ag­no­sis. Sev­eral years ago she had a mas­tec­tomy, and most re­cently, she dis­cov­ered a can­cer­ous lump on the side of her neck.

She and Doug spent three weeks in July at The Lodge That Gives while she re­ceived ra­di­a­tion treat­ment.

Be­fore ar­riv­ing there, she had the im­pres­sion that it would be gloomy.

“I fig­ured it would be a som­bre place, but it’s just a goin’,” she said, not­ing that the meals are in­cred­i­ble, and she en­joyed play­ing cards and work­ing on puz­zles with other guests.

“What a place up there. It’s like a home away from home. You couldn’t get nicer peo­ple,” said Guthro.

“They seemed to lift ev­ery­body up. It made her feel good see­ing how they were get­ting along. She’s feel­ing a lot bet­ter now.”

Guthro said he’s do­nat­ing 100 per cent of the pro­ceeds of the paint­ing sales to the fund to rec­og­nize the care they re­ceived.

“I feel that I had to give some­thing back for how they treated us and what they did for Margie,” he said.

“They do any­thing for you at any time.”

While the stay is free for pa­tients, com­pan­ions or fam­ily mem­bers who stay there are charged $65 per night per per­son to cover the cost of the room and three meals.

Bon­nie McCar­ron, the can­cer pa­tient nav­i­ga­tor for Pic­tou County, said it’s help­ful for pa­tients to have some­one with them.

“To have some­body stay with them goes a long way to mak­ing them more com­fort­able,” she said. “When first start­ing treat­ments, it can be re­ally scary for them.”

McCar­ron said while some pa­tients qual­ify for es­cort ap­proval, such as chil­dren, some peo­ple just can’t af­ford the ex­tra cost, es­pe­cially if the stay is long or if they’re spend­ing a lot of money on med­i­ca­tions.

“It’s a won­der­ful fundraiser,” she said.

Guthro feels the as­sis­tance is needed in Pic­tou County be­cause so many peo­ple from the area stay at The Lodge That Gives, and he knows some peo­ple can’t af­ford it.

Kelly Cull of the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety con­firms that Pic­tou County is one of the high­est users of The Lodge That Gives.

When Guthro first got the idea for the fundraiser, he men­tioned it to his morn­ing swim­ming group at the Pic­tou County YMCA, and its mem­bers, his “swim­ming fam­ily,” im­me­di­ately of­fered to help or­ga­nize it. He ap­pre­ci­ates their as­sis­tance, as he said he’s never un­der­taken an en­deav­our like this be­fore.

“It just makes me feel that I’m do­ing some­thing for the peo­ple in Pic­tou County,” said Guthro, who used to sell his paint­ings at the Heather Ho­tel where he was the chef. He’s now re­tired.

“I don’t re­ally con­sider my­self an artist. I en­joy do­ing it,” not­ing that he took up the “re­lax­ing” hobby af­ter be­ing a cake dec­o­ra­tor for many years.

Guthro is keep­ing a few of his favourite paint­ings, such as one of his Sheltie dog and ones of houses he and Mar­garet grew up in.

“I’m happy with it, I don’t feel darn bit … sad about any of them. It means a lot to me where they’re go­ing and what they’re go­ing for,” he said.

CAROL DUNN/THE NEWS

CAROL DUNN/THE NEWS

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