Portrait of giving back
Artist selling paintings to help cancer patients travelling for treatment
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.