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Dying cancer patient fulfills final dream: having his art on display

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Andy McIsaac after a surgery. | Courtesy Andy McIsaac

IDAHO FALLS — Andy McIsaac is a 45-year-old former construction worker and tattoo artist, but now he’s a dying cancer patient living out his final dream.

McIsaac has always had a passion for drawing, but with not much time left to live, his sister, Joann Meyers, decided to do something special for her brother. She wanted to get his artwork recognized and have it shared with people other than family.

“We’re losing him but (sharing his artwork) is a way for him to live on,” Meyers said.

For the last few years, the Colored Pencil Society of America District Chapter 217 has been part of an art exhibition at The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho. Amber Hunt, a member of CPSA and Meyer’s friend, posted on Facebook that she had artwork on display at the event.

Meyers contacted Hunt and explained that her brother was suffering from the effects of cancer. She said their family would like to see him have an art show, even if it’s after he dies, but they didn’t know how to go about it.

“I was like, ‘Well, what if we could do something now, would you guys do that?'” Hunt said. “And that’s when the ball started rolling.”

McIsaac, who lives in Shelley, has experienced health problems for some time.

One of Andy McIsaac’s cancer art pieces. | Courtesy Andy McIsaac

About 17 years ago, he had a seizure. Another one of his sisters, Anne Nikirk, said he had emergency brain surgery where the tumor was removed. But three years ago, he had another seizure and was diagnosed with a recurrent brain tumor. Another operation was performed, and a large part of the tumor was removed, Nikirk said.

The father of three kids underwent radiation and chemotherapy before eventually returning to work hanging dry-wall. For nearly two years, he had clean MRIs.

“We really thought we had more time, but then he had a huge seizure,” Nikirk said.

In early September 2019, McIsaac was hiking when he seized up yet again. Nikirk said radiation necrosis began taking a toll on his body. Radiation treatment once helped save his life, but the effects of it are now killing his healthy brain tissue.

He’s unable to walk, his speech is limited and he can’t draw because his body is too weak.

“It’s just been progressive since then,” Nikirk said.

Hunt contacted people involved with the exhibition to see if there was any way one of McIsaac’s pieces could be hung up, given the circumstances. Although the show was already open, it was decided that as long as his artwork met the guidelines that other CPSA members are required to follow, his piece could be put on display.

“They had to take work down, move stuff around and then put it back up,” Hunt said. “It was a really special thing that they did for him.”

Hunt was not only impressed that within about two days his artwork was hanging on a wall, but that this year’s theme relates to McIsaac’s situation. She said the theme is “time.”

“The theme took on a whole new meaning when a unique opportunity was presented to give a man who has been diagnosed with only a limited time to live, a checkmark on his bucket list,” Hunt told EastIdahoNews.com

Meyers said the McIsaac family was in tears when Hunt informed them that his artwork would be put on display.

Andy McIsaac with his wife, Bobbette. | Courtesy Andy McIsaac

“There’s not a lot of positive news right now, but that’s been that shining moment for us,” Meyers said. “It really means the world to all of us that part of him is there and that people can enjoy.”

The art exhibition runs until Feb. 8. Click here to get more information on The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho.

There is also a GoFundMe set up to help the McIsaac family with medical bills.

Andy McIsaac’s ‘Elder,’ which is being shown at The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho. | Courtesy Andy McIsaac

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