Local artist Maxine Trainer has never been one to sit still. She’s active in the community and the arts, teaching painting classes at the Islamorada Library-Helen Wadley Branch, running her own art studio and rescuing animals.
She hasn’t let stage three breast cancer slow her down, so she certainly doesn’t intend to let “some nasty little bug” (her pet name for the coronavirus) do so either.
The light-hearted jokester shares some of the thoughts she has on having cancer in the time of coronavirus. “I will sometimes think, ‘Damn, universe, you’re throwing me a whole new ballgame. I am just at the end of chemo. I lost my boob, my hair and my tooth. I’ll be damned if I’m taken out by a little bug.’” Laughing, she adds, “We’re not going there. It’s not happening.”
This week, Trainer finishes her last of 10 rounds of chemotherapy at Mariners Hospital in Tavernier. In true artist fashion, she’s celebrating by giving the place a makeover.
“I decided last week as I was sitting in the chair for many hours facing a blank wall that I was going to change that,” the painter tells the Weekly. “I want to put some of my paintings in, and I want people to see them and feel uplifted, taken away from their current situation.”
Trainer is best known for her vibrant paintings of rescue dogs. With painted-on frames that say “Rescue is the new purebreed,” Trainer highlights not just the animals that are rescued, but also the heroes who rescue them. She includes the rescue stories on the back of each painting.
“They’re always happy endings. They give the message of hope over fear. My work is a celebration of what people do to help these pups,” she said. “And color does everything for me and for a lot of people.”
She specifically selected these pieces for the infusion rooms. “When you’re sitting in that chair watching that drip go down and down and down, it’s like watching the second hand of a clock go around for six hours,” she said. “It happened to me too, and that’s when I thought ‘No, we need to be redirected.’” Trainer hopes her pieces will help refocus patients’ attention on happy, colorful and positive feelings.
A self-described “hurricane (category) 5” pre-cancer, Trainer now admits she’s probably operating closer to a category 3. Still, she finished hanging her canvases in three infusion rooms last week and will finish the other three this week, during her last treatment.
“I have my machines going and I just go around putting my paintings up,” she laughs, “while getting my infusion. When I step back, I feel amazing thinking people will come in and be affected by this.”
And they have. Her nurses called her to share everyone’s positive response. As predicted, the colors and the positivity are working their magic.
“I loved this,” she said. “It brought joy to my heart. For now, my job is done.” With gratitude, she realizes, “Maybe this is where my whole journey has been going towards, to make this difference in someone’s life even for a few minutes. It’s a huge privilege.”
To donate to Trainer’s breast cancer fund, visit her GoFundMe page.
I am not in control of the cancer, so I have to put that aside. I’m not in control of this corona. I can control what I think and feel, how I live my life and what I produce. So, I make what makes me feel good.
– Maxine Trainer