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Arts Community Rallies Around One of Its Own Facing Cancer

Gavin Gerundo believes in “the power of art as a force for good in the world.”

So, when a dear friend faced the dreaded six-letter word – cancer, he turned to art to help her.

“While ‘thoughts and prayers’ can be useful in making a friend feel supported, I wanted to create an outlet for myself and others to offer tangible help,” he said. 

Gerundo organized Art Auction for the Dibiasos, in honor of Amanda Dibiaso, who was recently diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. The online event will be held noon Aug. 19 through 8 p.m. Aug. 26. Click here for details.

The auction consists of paintings, reproductions, and other contributions donated by the artists and can be viewed at artworks are available to view here

The auction includes a lot of works of art created specifically with the cause in mind, Gerundo said. All proceeds will go directly to the Dibiaso's to help offset the costs of treatment. 

“I am beyond grateful for our amazing friend Gavin for organizing all this, and for all the artists donating their time and works of art for this,” Dibiaso, 36, of Fort Thomas said.

Dibiaso and her husband, Vince, worked in the music and art production business for years. They operate Dibiaso Designs which offers tattoos, metal sculptures, paintings, live painting, writing services and other artistic pieces. Through the years, the Dibiasos have met and worked with many artists. She also works as a manager at Red Dragon Tattoo & Piercing.

“Having so many of (the artists we know) step up to help us like this is incredible,” she said. “Between the cancer and Covid, I am unable to work throughout this whole process, which could take up to a year or more. So, we'll not only be missing out on my full-time income, but my husband will need to take unpaid time off at various times to take care of me.”

The Dibiasos also have two daughters, 14 and 18.

According to Gerundo there are more than 40 artists contributing work to the auction, all artists who the Dibiasos have impacted through their years as “vital members of the art community.” 

“These artists come from all walks of creative lives and span the country from the hills of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to as far away as the islands of Hawaii and everywhere in between,” he said. “Our community is not centralized to a location, but to a dream for a vibrant, colorful circle of creatives that spans great distances but comes together in a beautiful symphony.”

Gerundo said the artists were eager to help. 

“Amanda and Vince have offered so much to the art community throughout the years through friendship, providing opportunities, and organizing the chaos that goes into music festivals,” he said. “They have supported and inspired others countless times.

“Speaking for myself, I would 100 percent not be the person i am today without Amanda and Vince in my life. I think this can be said for a lot of artists in a world that tells us you can't make it as a creative. Through them and our community, a lot of us artists have ‘made it’ in one way or another. These tools that we have built as a community now provide us an opportunity to provide real help to our friends in their time of need. That's what community is about, helping each person rise above their troubles and come out thriving.”

Dibiaso said that this outpouring of love and support has gotten her through this difficult time.

She was officially diagnosed on July 8.

“I honestly couldn't even comprehend it,” she said. “ Like, I understood what they were saying, but it didn't feel like they could possibly be talking about me. I haven't gone through life thinking I'd never get cancer. I smoked on and off for years, so I always worried that there would be lung cancer in my future. But when I pictured that, I was in my 60s. I never expected breast cancer in my 30s.”

Dibiaso currently undergoing chemotherapy, followed by surgery, which will be either a lumpectomy, mastectomy or double mastectomy depending on how the cancer responds to the chemo, then radiation to complete the trifecta. 

“Since my cancer is grade 3, meaning it's the fast moving and spreading kind, the treatment plan has been moving quickly,” she said. 

After her diagnosis, she was scheduled for further testing and a surgery to put a chemo port in her chest the following week, followed by my first 7-hour chemo session a few days after that. 

“Unfortunately, the surgery had some really rare complications, and what was supposed to be an outpatient, same-day surgery turned into a pretty rough week in the hospital, pushing my chemo start date to July 30,” she said. “So I've had a rough start so far, but I'm trying to stay positive.”

Her husband, daughters and mom, along with many other family members and friends, have really kept her keep going so far. 

“They inspire me to stay positive and keep fighting towards a better future,” she said.

In addition to the online art auction, support for the Dibiasos can also be expressed through a GoFundMe.

Red Dragon Tattoo & Piercing fundraising raffle. Their tattoo artists are raffling off tattoo time. Four artists are offering two four-hour sessions at $20 a raffle ticket. Another is offering one 3-hour session at $15 a ticket. A piercing artist is offering 5 piercing valued at $39 or $49 at $15 a ticket. Winners will be drawn on Facebook and Instagram live at 6 p.m. Sept. 12. Visit https://bit.ly/Raffle4Amanda for more information.

Written by Melissa Reinert, RCN contributor

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