Edgy Cartoons Tell the Story of One Woman's Battle with Cancer


During Amy Marash’s battle with colon cancer in 2009, finding creative outlets became essential to helping her through the dark moments, adding humor and brightness to a scary time.

Colon Cancer survivor Amy Marash has found comfort and humor in cartoons.Colon Cancer survivor Amy Marash has found comfort and humor in cartoons.

The DC-based video journalist and avid blogger managed to translate her experience with cancer into a series of cartoon drawings that tell the story of her diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The cartoons, which are featured on the blog www.cancerissofunny.com and are being compiled into a book, give a refreshing and often irreverent glimpse into Marash’s cancer experience. Her ups and downs are honestly portrayed with humor and irony, and every cartoon features the female cancer patient protagonist and a sidekick in the form of a small red bird who is full of wisecracks and wisdom.

On a recent day at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, where Marash was treated, her artwork collided with real life. Three of Marash’s cartoons highlighting her interaction with Laura Sperling,CMP, a musician who plays the flute regularly for cancer patients at Georgetown Lombardi, have been hung in an inpatient hallway in the hospital.

Marash, Sperling and Nancy Morgan, who directs the Georgetown Lombardi Arts & Humanities Program, reunited to see the cartoons in their new home. The Arts & Humanities Program purchased the delightful drawings to display as a triptych on the floor that Sperling regularly performs on.

“Amy has a gift for expressing complex emotions through simple drawings,” Morgan says. “The anticipation, joy and afterglow of that musical interlude are evident in these images. Everyone who sees Amy’s artwork will understand how music can help with recovery.”

According to Marash, hearing Sperling play the flute throughout her recovery from surgery greatly improved her quality of life and reduced her need for pain medication.

“For me,” Marash says, “Laura’s music is like buddy-breathing; it eases the burden of survival and recovery.  Music therapy is like a hidden universe that complements the very visible universe of nursing and medical care at Georgetown Lombardi.”

Listen to a recent BBC feature story on the benefits of music at Georgetown Lombardi.

More information on the Arts & Humanities Program can be found on the Georgetown Lombardi website.


Authors: Nancy Morgan and Lauren Wolkoff