Tough Kookie Foundation unveils cancer survivors' art in downtown Texarkana, Texas

Breast cancer survivor Angela Burt attends the Tough Kookie Foundation artwork unveiling Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, at the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council's Art Wall in downtown Texarkana, Texas. (Staff photo by Sharda James)

TEXARKANA, Texas -- Cancer patient and survivor advocacy group Tough Kookie Foundation on Monday celebrated its fourth annual art unveiling at the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council's Art Wall downtown.

Community members, cancer survivors and foundation board members gathered for the reveal of 48 painted panels, which honored not only breast cancer survivors but also childhood cancer survivors.

Foundation Art Director Diane Richardson said the art displayed at TRAHC is therapy art.

"We had most of the survivors paint at least one panel or maybe family members in memory of someone they knew," Richardson said. "This has been a community effort."

Tough Kookie Foundation's motto is "Together We Can," and it is committed to establishing extraordinary levels of effectiveness in support, encouragement, resources, education and advocacy for breast and childhood cancer survivors, according to founder Katina Livingston.

In attendance was the 2022-2023 Tough Kookie Breast Cancer Survivor of the Year, Kim Yingling. Yingling was surprised with a portrait painted by Richardson.

"I love my portrait," Yingling said. "Diane is such a sweet lady, and it was just a surprise to see she painted me."

Yingling said she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in June 2021 and is now a two-year survivor.

"I'm guilty of not having mammograms for 10 years, and I ended up discovering the lumps myself," Yingling said. "I'm thankful to have had a great team of doctors."

She said she is thankful to be recognized as the breast cancer survivor of the year.

"I've met so many women and men who have become friends for life," Yingling said. "I can honestly say I understand what they are going through and we can help each other mentally."

Yingling said for anyone battling breast cancer and maybe feeling like giving up, "You can do it."

She said she called the foundation a week after she was diagnosed and received lots of support from Livingston.

The Art Wall display at 321 W. Fourth St. will remain throughout October. The painted panels will also be available for sale during a silent auction at a later date.

The foundation's third annual Breast Cancer Race is Saturday, Oct. 21 at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. The deadline to order T-shirts is Oct. 13. For more information, follow Tough Kookie Foundation on Facebook.