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Nell Nations: Using Art to Bring Hope to the Cancer Community

Nell Nations

“It is my hope that my artwork will bring joy and hope to future cancer patients, caregivers, and the Wichita Falls community.”

Nell Nations
Colon Cancer

For more than a decade, fiberglass horse statues painted by local artists in Wichita Falls have become a staple in the community – decorating businesses, parks, and facilities throughout the city. The latest addition to this “painted pony herd” was created by Nell Nations, an artist, chief radiation therapist at Texas Oncology–Wichita Falls Cancer Center, and colon cancer survivor.

An avid artist since childhood, Nell’s art pieces have brought joy and hope to those around her for years. Since 2005, Nell has worked at multiple Texas Oncology locations helping cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. No stranger to cancer within her family, Nell’s father was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and her mother with breast cancer. In September 2020, Nell became the patient herself within in the very walls where she worked.

Nell was diagnosed with stage 2a colon cancer. She underwent surgery followed by six months of chemotherapy with Praveen Reddy, M.D., a hematologist and medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Wichita Falls Cancer Center.

Texas Oncology had been considering collaborating with a local artist on painting an art installation to go in front of the clinic. With such close ties to the practice, as well as her joy for art, Nell stepped up to the plate.

“The opportunity to do this was a good way to get me motivated again after my diagnosis and inspired me to look forward to the future. It was also a way for me to say ‘thank you’ to my colleagues, team members, and the physicians who work here,” said Nell.

When Nell offered up her talents, her team members believed there was no one better suited to paint this installation than a member of the Texas Oncology family.

“Texas Oncology has deep roots in the Wichita Falls community and has proudly served the region for over a decade,” said Nan Parker, practice director at Texas Oncology—Wichita Falls Cancer Center. “We’re so honored that Nell gave her time and talents to this beautiful art installation that is sure to inspire everyone who walks through our doors.”

Nell collaborated with The Mane Event, a Wichita Falls public art project, to paint a statue of a horse named Hope. Decorated with multicolored cancer ribbons representing the different cancer types, Hope is posed in forward motion, much like someone fighting cancer. An inspirational sign that reads “fight cancer” is printed on the horse’s chest, encouraging patients to keep going.

“It’s kind of an homage to not only Texas with the blue bonnets but also Wichita Falls with the motto, ‘blue skies, golden opportunities.’ Hopefully something that represents brightness to patients as they come into the building and go out,” said Nell.

On Thursday, July 28, Texas Oncology unveiled Nell’s art installation at its Wichita Falls cancer center, where she has worked for five years and underwent treatment.

“Painting this horse for the art installation at Texas Oncology was very meaningful to me as the chief radiation therapist here and a cancer survivor. It is my hope that my artwork will bring joy and hope to future cancer patients, caregivers, and the Wichita Falls community,” Nell said.

Through resilience and hope, today, Nell is living without evidence of the disease.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.