Congratulations to Aviella Del Balso and Anika Clark, our 2021 CUREative Art Contest winners!

The CUREative Art and Writing Contest was open to all teens age 13-19 in the state of Wisconsin. It was an opportunity for teens to creatively express how their lives have been touched by cancer. Entries were judged by two panels of judges (art and writing) and displayed at the Goodman Community Center in Madison. Here is a link to the Digital Exhibit that includes all CUREative Art and Writing entries, along with the art submitted as part of the greater Gilda’s Club Madison Art Show.

Aviella Del Balso (Winner of the Art Category)

Hi, my name is Aviella Del Balso and I am 13 years old. I live in Platteville, WI with my mom who has metastatic breast cancer, dad, two younger brothers and little sister. We have a dog, two cats and a bunch of chickens. I love to draw and especially like Zen tangle.

My art piece is a Zen tangle and it has lots of shapes and patterns. I especially like Zen tangles because I like to play around with different styles, and you don’t really need to make a specific shape, you can use any shape that you like.

When I make a tangle I normally do it in pencil first and go over it in pen and sharpie marker. Then I erase the pencil lines and add shading or highlights.

In this tangle I added a girl walking down a path. I colored the girl in with watercolor pencils to make her stand out.

The girl is sad because her mom has cancer. The path she is on is uphill and has many twists and turns. The path represents her life and she doesn’t know where it leads, but she keeps going because she wants to get to the end.

I titled it “Time and Prayer,” because it takes time for cancer to go away and sometimes it doesn’t, but you can always trust God to do what’s best and hope that God’s will is what you want as well.

Anika Clark (Winner of the Writing Category)

My name is Anika Clark, I’m fifteen years old, and I attend Middleton High School. I wanted to put thoughts on paper before I could even write, my mom would write down what I said. When I was old enough to write by myself it became my creative outlet and still is. Here is my story:

My auntie Suzanne was the most caring, loving, smartest, strongest woman I was privileged to know for years of my life. She had such a charismatic personality, and her energy could brighten a room. Two weeks ago I visited her house in Culpeper, Virginia. Her husband Jim Clark was there to greet us, but there was one familiar face missing from the front porch. Every time, since I was born, auntie Suzanne would be smiling and greeting us at her big front porch. We traveled by car, thirteen hours, to Virginia to pick up some of her belongings since the house was being sold. It was terribly hard to choose what I wanted to take from the house, a keepsake, with her special charm still lingering. However, I found a couple of things that truly spoke to me and reminded me of the special woman she was.

In May 2018 my auntie Suzanne passed away due to a rare form of cancer. I didn’t get to see her at all, because of the fear of getting her sick while she was on chemotherapy. The last time being face to face with her was too far gone, a faint memory. I received pictures and videos of her, trying her best to be cheerful for my siblings and I, but the pain behind her eyes was crystal-clear. She lost her hair and tried on some wigs to feel the same she did before. But even I knew all she wanted was to be herself again. Losing her was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. She was my rock, supporter, and most importantly, my friend. A friend lost. The pain and suffering of loss can go to many extremes,but after losing her nothing was the same for me.

When you only have memories of someone who you love dearly, the saddest part being known is that one day they’ll all fade. I want to believe that is not true, but some form of reality tells me I am not wrong, Faces will become unrecognizable, voices will become unperceivable. My auntie’s voice sounded so sweet, she would never hurt a fly. She left behind two puppies. My aunt was always a dog mom, she had more than five dogs who she loved dearly. After she passed away, it was almost as if her dogs died with her. One after another, not too many months, maybe a year apart, one of her dogs would pass away. It was almost scary, how much of an impact she had on her family, her dogs, and all the friends she had. Never will I forget my auntie: caring, smart, beautiful, and gone too soon.

The staff of Gilda’s Club Madison want to thank Aviella and Anika for being a part of our CUREative Art contest!

Do you know a teen that may want to participate in a future CUREative Art Contest through Gilda’s Club Madison? This contest is open to any teen with a cancer connection, ages 13-19, who lives in the state of Wisconsin. Each teen may submit one piece of art OR writing to the contest that is a reflection of their connection to cancer. The teen may be a cancer survivor, have a loved one with cancer, have experienced a death to cancer, or has been touched in some way in their life by cancer. Want to learn more? Reach out to

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