Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Case Study #16 - David Preparing BBQ Beef Brisket

David Preparing BBQ Beef Brisket. 30" x 24" Oil on Canvas.
Chef David Gladyness has NF but it certainly doesn't slow him down.

David inherited his NF from his mother's side of the family: his grandmother, his mother, and four of his mother's siblings, four of his cousins,  one of his brothers, one of his brother's children and both of her children all have NF. In David's words, "I decided not to have children, I knew I had NF at the age of 5, but was not officially diagnosed until I was 18, I had a tumor removed of of my left hip and it grew back but it doesn't bother me as it had in the past. Two years ago I had major surgery and spent 15 days in the hospital and was diagnosed with Neuroendricine cancer. I had a Whipple surgery, They removed my gall bladder, the head of my pancreas, 17 inches of my small intestine and 20% of my stomach. Growing up my major issues was a speech impediment."

Prep Sketch for oil painting
David is a culinary trained chef. He got his love of cooking from his father who was born and raised in Louisiana. As a child, he watched his father prepare family meals which including the cooking of wild game and domestic animals. It is not surprising that David's favorite cuisine to prepare is Cajun or Creole. His love of cooking had him return to school, as an adult, to link his passion for food preparation with his natural creative spirit. Prior to culinary school, he had always enjoyed cooking and would attend food fairs and how-to seminars. At some point, his wife finally encouraged him to attend. While there, he had the opportunity to travel to France to cook for the stars in the American Pavilion at the Cannes International Film Festival. It proved to be an amazing time. People always ask David what he likes to cook. His reply is simply, "I enjoy the Savory more than the Sweet."

Besides going to Washington, D.C. to lobby for fund for NF research, David is also very instrumental in running and organizing several different NF camps for kids, one in Michigan and one in West Virginia.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Case Study #14 - Juan Practicing Taekwondo

Juan Practicing Taekwondo - 30" x 24" oil on canvas
Juan Rodriguez was born in Massachusetts and at birth he was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis, due to many café-au-spots. Problematic and heartwrenching for his mother was the fact that Juan's right leg snapped in two due to a tumor that had grown inside of his bone. After his leg broke, he had to have a double operation which involved removing two ribs to try and replace his right tibia. The procedures were done at two months and again at six months old.

As a child growing up Juan was not allowed to play due to the cast that was on his leg that reached up to his hip. The doctors explained to his mother that the operation they had preformed, might not last long and amputation might be an option.

In his later teenager years Juan had many troubles. Teenagers made fun of his leg and underestimated him; believing he was weak. These same teenagers also made fun of the bumps (tumors) that he had growing all over his stomach. While Juan heard all sort of jokes about his tumors, such as "connect the dots", "looks like mountains", and other cruel jokes, Juan decided to do his best to excel in sports, and in this way he could hide his tumors with his clothes.

Prep Sketch - 30" x 24" Oil on Canvas
In September 2013, while in his mid thirties, Juan joined Taekwondo, mostly for joint relief, as he had had problems with mobility, stiffness and pain. Juan hopes to someday achieve his black belt in Taekwondo.

Juan in the past has help spread awareness of NF awareness through the Childrens Tumor Foundation (CTF) in New York City by participating in two of the Cupid Undies Run Fundraiser runs, and casino night. He looks forward to doing more work with the CTF. Recently, Juan spoke about NF at his alma mater, Essex County College, in Newark, NJ helping to educate a class learn about the disorder; a disorder that affects so many people worldwide.