Our statement regarding the Angelo Merendino Exhibit at The Gathering Place

For inquiries and comments regarding this exhibit at The Gathering Place contact Kristina Austin at 216-244-5532

Last week Angelo Merendino hung his photography exhibit The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer in our art gallery at The Gathering Place West. The photographs chronicle Jennifer Merendino’s breast cancer journey which ended in her untimely death. We know that these aren’t merely photographs; they are a glimpse into a very personal and emotional journey.

Shortly after the exhibit was hung some of our volunteers (many of whom are cancer survivors) and our participants found it very difficult and emotionally upsetting to see the exhibition. Because our mission at The Gathering Place is to provide a peaceful, healing and nurturing environment where our participants feel supported and encouraged, we have chosen to remove the exhibit so as to not add to the emotional challenges a cancer journey creates.

We take full responsibility and recognize that we made a mistake in not realizing how overwhelming such an exhibit would be to our participants prior to it being hung in our Westlake gallery. We are deeply sorry for the angst that we have caused Mr. Merendino. We know that he put much time, energy and emotion in bringing this exhibit to The Gathering Place. We want to go on record that The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer is a well done, powerful and important portrayal of a family’s cancer journey.

We cannot change the outcome of this experience but we have learned from it. We now have a committee that will review all art before it is placed in either of our galleries. We thank those that have provided very honest feedback to us and appreciate your being a part of our caring community as we continue to fulfill our mission of supporting, educating and empowering those individuals and families touched by cancer.

Please direct any inquiries regarding this statement to:

Kristina Austin, Director of Community Relations and Marketing, The Gathering Place, 216-595-9546 or austin@touchedbycancer.org

277 Responses to “Our statement regarding the Angelo Merendino Exhibit at The Gathering Place”

  1. Eric McNew says:

    This is very sad that the exhibit is being taken down. Of course it is upsetting. But it bring a great deal of awareness to the subject and Mr Merendino has spent a great deal of time and money on the exhibit. Very poor decision on your part.

  2. Ashley Dunn says:

    I am a breast cancer survivor and I am very moved by Angelo’s photos. They are very emotional and at times “difficult”. However, to me that is the point. Breast cancer is not pretty pink ribbons. It is real and scary and all the things his pictures portray. I am disappointed by your decision to remove his exhibit.

  3. nancy says:

    I am shocked and so sad for Angelo this is just wrong
    you will probably be getting a lot of emails regarding this

  4. Lori says:

    I have been following Angelo and Jen’s journey for a while now and I don’t understand why you would allow this exhibit to be hung, only to take it down. I know you did you research and knew what his photos were about prior to asking him to exhibit. Angelo’s photos are very moving and it’s a shame you let the actions of “some’ of your volunteers decide the fate of this beautiful collection. I really hope you reconsider your decision to help those of us who have not been effected by this horrible disease understand what the cancer patient is, and has, experienced.

  5. Athena Nader says:

    An exhibit like this should bring up emotions, however hurtful they may feel. Shame on you for taking this down! It is real and shows how cancer truly affects real people and families, I am deeply disappointed in this decision.

  6. Corinne says:

    I’m deeply disturbed that you would remove the hard work of a deeply committed husband to his cancer-stricken wife. I understand your concerns about the overall feel of the exhibit, but in reality you may have just done your organization more harm than good. You will nw be infamous, and other artists may not want to support you. Your supporters may no longer want to support you. Keep that in mind as Mr. Meredino takes to social media and talks about this, as is his right…

  7. Patricia Gonzalez-Powell says:

    Extremely poor judgment on your part to remove the exhibit. We cannot change reality. Angelo’s images lovingly document Jenny’s battle. Your actions are so very wrong and heartless.

  8. Carrie VerPlank says:

    How sad for Angelo and for all involved. He must be crushed. I hope you make it up to him.

  9. Melissa Danielewic says:

    I am shocked that you decided to take down Mr. Merendino’s exhibit. Cancer is ugly. His photographs are beautiful. Horrible decision.

  10. Michelle Eppley says:

    I think it is doing a huge disservice to censor art because it upsets some people. I have been fully inspired by Angelo’s photos. They are so emotional and heartbreaking, but so is cancer.

    I understand you want to be positive but be positive not just for the survivors but for those who died, and their families. Remind everyone how precious life is and to love each other with the same love that Angelo has for Jen.

  11. Jen Paterchak says:

    I just heard that you have pulled Angelo Merendino’s exhibit chronicling is beautiful wife, Jennifer’s, fight with cancer. This makes me sick! How about supporting folks whose loved ones or themselves will not survive. I think your tag line should be changed to “a caring community for those touched by cancer, well ONLY IF THEY LIVE”. So disappointing!

  12. Jeanine says:

    It brought up a lot of emotions? Of course it did! It should have! What the hell kind of cancer exhibit doesn’t? You all are callused and ridiculous! The people who are “saddened” by these photos, and the people asking to have them removed should be GLAD that they survived cancer, and that they DIDN’T lose their wives, husbands, or other relatives, instead of voting to take it down. Cancer SHOULD be raw, and real, and touch a part of your soul you didn’t know you had. THAT’S what your organization should be about. Not making a place for individuals and families fighting cancer that is all lollipops and rainbows. Show something REAL. You people disgust me.

  13. chelsie says:

    Cancer is hard to live with hard to let go of loved ones hard to witness… Why only support survivors who find this hard to take in? Angelo has changed the lives of many and this is so very wrong. Shame on your company

  14. DC Martin says:

    Cancer is not pretty.
    Cancer does not always have a happy ending.
    Cancer hurts, and cancer is hard to look at.
    You are doing a disservice to your mission, your volunteers, the community at large, and Mr. Merendino and the memory his late wife by cancelling this exhibition.
    Shame on you.

  15. Tom Bolster says:

    Cancer is ugly. The disease does not discriminate. It does not care about age, race, sex, gender, etc.. Cancer does not care what you think of it.

    The people that have this disease are true fighters and inspirations. The Researchers, Doctors, and Nurses that fight this disease are amazing.

    Taking this exhibit down is a shame and disgrace to many. While I understand how upsetting it can be to ANYONE, Angelo’s & Jen’s work are FACT! Cancer is upsetting. The more upset people get, the more they will get involved to end this nightmare for so many people.

    Shame! Shame! Shame! Art is for everyone. Not for the select few to choose what should and should not be presented.


    Tom Bolster
    Son of Robert Bolster who died from Cancer!

  16. bruno says:

    In Jennifers honor and out of respect to Angelo I will say only this, what a terrible choice for your company to make. In a world that needs support and awareness this is sad nad just unbelievable

  17. Meg says:

    I’m very sad to see that you removed this exhibit – I had been looking forward to visiting. It actually was the whole reason I was even aware of your organization — and would have loved to contribute to your mission.

    How sad that such a beautiful tribute could be misinterpreted — how could a husband’s love and his mission to create a lasting legacy for his beautiful wife be taken as anything but love.

    Art moves us and stirs emotion. Jennifer’s story and her husband’s poignant photographs made me reevaluate my own life and love — it’s a shame others couldn’t see it that way too.

  18. Bridget says:

    The comment above says it all: breast cancer is not all pretty pink ribbons. Real. Scary. Hard to face and doesn’t come with the sexual inuendos so many supporters love to ta-ta and otherwise make light of. Sad for Angelo and all of the people who have been touched by the love story of he and Jennifer. Rather than take it down or put a shroud over all things we don’t want to see and feel- find him another gallery to take the exhibit. It doesny take a committee to see that is what you should do.

  19. cathy says:

    This is a very very poor decision by The Gathering Place! As a cancer survivor of ten years+, I will admit I sometimes forget the struggle it was and take it for granted that I am here. These photos remind me how lucky I am. Shame on you!

  20. Kate says:

    This is a tremendous mistake on your part and I cannot understand how you continue calling yourself a “caring” community. Mr. Merendino’s pictures was the first awakening call for me. A lot of my friends and their relatives had been touched by cancer but before I saw his exhibit I could never realize the extent of pain cancer brings to one’s life. Until that moment I do not think I knew their feelings, and I know I still don’t, but I am trying hard to help those who now need my help more than ever. I cannot believe your actions. Very deeply saddened.

  21. Kandiss Bradley says:


    I live in Toronto Canada, I have been following Jen’s story for 18 months. I never knew her personally.

    I understand why you chose to take the exhibition down, but only half understand.

    The survivors are entitled to their emotions, but so am I. The survivors are the lucky ones, Jen was not. The exhibition is a truthful look into cancer, not a sugar coated ‘everything will alright’.

    I wish there were more truthful and honest and real depictions of cancer like Angelo’s. You have made a huge mistake by taking a handful of hurt feelings over 1000’s of others’. It hurt them because the truth hurts sometimes. Just like a car accident, I don’t have to look at it if I don’t want to. They had a choice to stare at the photos and be weak rather than appreciate the fact they never had to go as far as Jen did in her fight – til the end. The ‘cancer survivors’ that are affiliated with your organization should be ashamed of themselves for being so selfish and inconsiderate and for taking away the opportunity from others to see what can really happen. Shame on you for catering to them for fear of starting a conflict. You have started a MUCH bigger conflict by taking it down.

    I wish you luck in the bad press you will soon get from people all over the world.

    May you NEVER have to endure anything like this in your loving memory.

    Rest in Peace Jen – your angels all over are still fighting for you.

    Kandiss Bradley

    • Georgi says:

      I am having a diffuclt time understanding just what point you are trying to make. You say you understand the reasoning for the removal, yet you go and judge people you have never met. You judge me, never knowing what I go through everyday. The day a person is told they have cancer they are a survivor. Not all of us get to have the happy ending. This is not a gallery, it is a hallway that leads to support group meetings, etc,. I think YOU should be ashanmed of yourself, I HAVE CANCER and God willing you won’t know what we go through. Your insentivety and arrogance is astounding. Your lack of compassion for the living is amazing. Unless you were to wear blinders you don’t really have a choice as to look at the pictures or not. YOU do not have the right to make that choice for me.

  22. Kelly Midcap says:

    This is shameful! His work illustrates a love so deep, so passionate, and so eternal that nothing….not even death, can divide nor destroy it. That IS a healthy, positive, and supportive message! Unfortunately, we cannot close our eyes to the ugliness of cancer…NOR should we! Facing fears and understanding that even in our darkest hours there will always be someone there to support us and love us and walk with us through this hell. That is encouraging. That is supportive. That is what his work reveals. THAT IS WHAT YOU CLAIM YOUR MISSION TO BE. So, stand up for it…and fight.

  23. Scott Burr says:

    This is unconscionable. Taking this exhibit down does more to lessen my opinion of your organization than you would believe. Hosting it did more to boost the profile of your organization that you seem to be aware. I really don’t think you guys did the math on this one.

  24. Deborah Clarke says:

    Shame on you. Cancer is hard, upsetting and emotional. Mr Merendino’s picture and indeed his journey and the path of awareness he has chosen to take are an inspiration and a testament to the strength and beauty of love between two people. I cannot believe that you ripped this mans heart out one more time for the sake of a few cathartic tears shed by volunteers. Karma’s a bitch. Best of luck.

  25. Shana says:

    This is unbelievable. Cancer is emotionally upsetting and disturbing. How can it not be? Cancer does not always result in people winning their battle and to pretend as though that is the only outcome by wanting to only display art that shows healed cancer patients is disingenuous.

    One of the points of Angelo’s art is to show the world what cancer is really like. Many of his photos document others looking openly shocked by his wife’s illness when they would see her walking down the street. During Jennifer’s cancer journey Angelo blogged that one of the reasons he took the photos was that he had realized that even their families did not fully understand what Jennifer was going through. Angelo has always had the goal of using the photos to educate people about what cancer is really like. This is especially important in our country where all cancer is to many people is pink ribbons and Susan G. Komen. Your organization is only going to contribute to this ignorance by refusing to exhibit Angelo’s photos, and by only exhibiting “peaceful and healing” photos in the future.

    I can understand being a cancer survivor and feeling upset by these photos. But it is beyond shorts-sited to think that these photos do not fit into your organizations mission because they were too hard to view by some people. If people are feeling like they might not be able to handle such an exhibit they always have the choice to not view it. However, the fact is, is that this exhibit is too important to take away the opportunity to see it from other people!

    Please reconsider and choose to keep the exhibit up. If you will not reconsider then I truly hope that you will choose to reimburse Angelo for the costs that he invested into this exhibit. It is the least you could do to help him move forward from this devastating news that you have given him. It would not heal him emotionally, but regardless he at least deserves that after what you have done to him, and after the way in which you have acted as though his feelings and the experiences of he and his wife do not matter to the cancer community.

  26. Danielle B says:

    Jennifer was a friend of mine, she helped me through my breast cancer and if not for her, I would not have gotten through it. Many of my friends who knew people who were diagnosed or diagnosed themselves found comfort in this exhibit, Angelo’s words, and the website. How dare you do this because a small few found it disturbing! Let me tell you cancer is disturbing, it’s scary and it hurts but knowing others who went through the same thing is comfort, it educates you and makes it a little less scary! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!!! This man went through hell watching his wife and my friend suffer, this how you repay him?

  27. Susan Mondo says:

    I have lost all respect for your organization. What you have done is the exact opposite of what you say you want to do. For shame, for shame. I hope you can live with knowing how much you have deepened the grief of this man who documented his love for his wife so beautifully.

  28. Diana says:

    I am deeply saddened, as are the other commenters. I would like to point out that you, yourselves, say in this article that you “take full responsibility,” for removing the exhibit. If you truly, honestly want to take full responsibility, you will compensate him for the time, money, and energy that Angelo put into preparing for this exhibit. Or you should use YOUR time, money, and energy to help him find a venue in Northeast Ohio that YOU consider more appropriate to display his beautiful, emotional, moving, overwhelming, at-times-hard-to-take art.

    I understand that you see your facility as a place to support, encourage, and empower those whose lives have been touched by cancer. I hope you realize how unsupportive your actions have been towards Angelo and his family. Yes, a few people may have had a negative response to his art, but they chose to look at it. Instead of removing the exhibit, perhaps you should have just posted a disclaimer stating that, although these photographs are helping the spouse of a cancer victim in HIS healing journey, they photos contain real and raw emotions dealing with cancer and may not be suitable for everyone.

    Shame on you and your organization for not thinking this through enough to come to a more positive conclusion.

    Diana Nabring
    Who doesn’t know Angelo or Jen Merendino, but happened to stumble across their path because I saw a friend-of-a-friend on facebook who had shared some of Angelo’s posts, and has been deeply moved as I continue to follow their journey.

  29. Danielle says:

    I, too, am shocked and saddened by this decision. Angelo created a beautiful and loving portrayal of a very real and difficult subject that has touched so many, including myself. I lost an aunt who was an artist to breast cancer ten years ago. I was deeply touched to see another artist take on this subject, and found Angelo’s photographs very meaningful. I am deeply disappointed that others will not be able to view Angelo and Jen’s journey.

  30. Michelle Nusbaum says:

    What a slap in the face to both Angelo and Jen! These pictures are reality. Cancer is a horrible disease, and we all know that some people do not survive. Here is a question I would ask…if these volunteers are having a difficult time dealing with these pictures, are they able to help and handle and care for the people who are coming into The Gathering Place for your services? I do not mean any disrespect to the volunteers and survivors, but maybe they are not ready to be helping in this kind of environment and may not be the right people for this kind of work. imho…

  31. Pamela Yaeger says:

    Your decision to abort this exhibition is astonishing. I am a cancer survivor, and the story Angrlo told with these photographs of Jennifer is incredibly poignant and moving. Of course it hurts to see it, of course it stirs grief and angst. The point is, it’s the truth.

    True art evokes emotion…even the kind that twists the stomach. Angelo gave Jennifer a voice and a life when cancer stole them from her. Now you’ve snatched them away again.

  32. Carol Batal says:

    I am very saddened that you have chosen to remove this photography exhibit that Angelo Meredino has chosen to share his and his beloved late wife Jennifer experience with breast cancer. Although I have never had cancer I know many who have and these photos show what love can still be. I understand it can be disturbing for some but for others it gives a sense of hope, love, and comfort. Shame on you for making this decision.

  33. This saddens me as a photographer and Breast Cancer survivor – I had the opportunity to view Angelo Merendino photos of Jennifer in NYC and I thought they were incredible and told the story of both the happy times and struggles that we as cancer patients go through. Seeing through a camera lens what Angelo and Jennifer both went through was inspiring for me as both Cancer patient and photographer. I thought if was wonderful for Angelo to share the private moments that as cancer patients we don’t want to remember – when I saw some of the images it made me remember what I went through and to know someone else had the same experience gave me a sort of relief. I personally thank Angelo and Jennifer (may she rest in peace) for sharing their story in photos. I photographed my journey and have plans on my photos too. Angelo don’t stop getting Jennifer’s story out there I truly think it is amazing.

  34. Alissa says:

    I am sadden to see that your organization made the terrible choice to remove the photographs. Photographs that have touched thousand upon thousands of people. All though it maybe hard these photographs give people strength as well as the urge to be aware of Cancer which leads to early detection in most cases. To see these photographs is to above all see The Love between a Talented Photographer and his Beautiful Wife. It is a shame that TGP brought Angelo Merendino there along with 60 Powerful Photographs then turn him away..

  35. Michelle says:

    These photos tell the story of cancer in one man’s eyes. He showed not only what his beautiful wife went through but how others rallied around him, and how some of his friends and family left them behind. This is his truth and for many it encourages and explains feelings and thoughts that cannot be put into words, but translates in Angelo’s photographs. I understand that it may be difficult for those that are going through cancer to look at these photos, I do not know how that feels. However, I have lost so many family members to cancer in the past few years….there were no happy endings for them and seeing these photos at that time could have provided the reality that I may have missed as a caregiver. You run on adrenaline most of the time and after seeing these photographs it showed me that your loved one with cancer may get lost in that. Those photos could slow someone down and give the patient more love and understanding.

  36. Christina Hermann says:

    I need more. I need far more than to know fundamentally that cancer is scary and sad. In fact I’ve seen that in writing. I’ve also seen it in the sad eyes of people who have cancer and in the eyes of the families of people with cancer. I need more. I need to see the struggle and the disease at it’s most twisted to fully understand that when I hear “I don’t feel too good today.” that I can better grasp what you’re going through. I need to appreciate that when you are at your weakest, most vulnerable or scared, I’ll know that’s when you need me the most. I need to see that there isn’t a moment I should take for granted. I need to see that I must put down my menial tasks and tend to you. I need to see that I have to put away my selfish fears and urge to withdraw aside.

    I don’t have cancer and no one in my family has cancer. However, if that sad fact presents itself one day, Angelo, you made me see. You have my unbridled gratitude.

  37. Courtney Chamberlin says:

    Every photo I have ever seen in Angelo’s collection is provacative in the sense that I feel I can actually see the love and beauty he and Jen shared. The collection celebrated the triumphs and chronicled the speed bumps of their journey together. To take the exhibit down prematurely is a HUGE mistake and really, it’s a shame that more people cannot be enlightened by it.

  38. Michele Meyers says:

    I am currently battling breast cancer. I have not been to The Gathering Place, and I have never met Jen or Angelo. I have seen their pictures online, and was so touched by their realness. That realness showed the raw pain that cancer brings, but also showed the deep love and beautiful spirit that Came from within Jen. You cannot dress cancer up and make it look pretty. It is what it is.

  39. Cheri says:

    I think whoever made this decision was so horribly wrong. Cancer is a devastating disease and unless you have been living in a bubble I think most people are well aware of that. This was a story of 2 people who started out so young and so in love and had to make this difficult journey that neither of them asked for. This is a fact of life none of us ever want to deal with but unfortunetly most of us will at one time in life will experience with a loved one. What a shame all this work and love was taken away. Shame on you.

  40. Joanne Hall says:

    It makes you wonder who the individuals were that complained about this exhibit. Generous benefactors of The Gathering Place perhaps? Another sad day. Sugar-coating something that is truly a scary disease. It isn’t about pink ribbons and relay races. Cancer is deadly and scary and those that have gone through it will appreciate this exhibit. Those whom cancer has never touched should study this exhibit. Shame on you for bowing to pressure from, what I can only imagine, is a small percentage. And, if the complaining were indeed many, shame on you for not taking the opportunity to stand up for what’s right.

  41. Jennifer B says:

    I am saddened for Angelo that the exhibit was taken down. His journey with Jen was beautiful because she loved her enough to dedicate his life to her journey with cancer even though it was not pretty and it was heart wrenching for them. I do sympathize with the survivors who were emotionally upset about the pictures, but at the same time they are allowed to still be here, living. This exhibit is the only chance for the world to see Jen’s beautiful face and the love they shared because she was not fortunate enough to be a survivor. If she was still here Angelo would not have to be going through the heartbreak of losing his wife & then have his pictures removed from an exhibit. I respect your care for your volunteers, but this time it came at a great cost to Angelo & others who loved Jen & wanted to see her story told to bring awareness to others. May God bless & comfort all involved!

  42. Nita Kelly says:

    This is just sad…. Most of the world just knows breast cancer as a pink ribbon. Cancer isn’t pretty….. The story should be told open , honestly and heartbreaking as it really is. Blind eyes will never see the truth.

  43. Lori Villanova says:

    Art is left to interpretation. A few being upset should not supersede those who were uplifted and positively encouraged by the exhibit. The response to these “complaints” for lack of a better word is unprofessional and shows lack of concern for many. Viewing the exhibit was a choice. Now because of some bad choices, many many more will not be able to partake in this amazing, uplifting, caring love story. Please don’t fix your so called mistake with another mistake of removal.

  44. Doug Alsdorf says:

    i lost my beautiful wife to metastatic breast cancer in may 2011. she was 43. i have seen cancer face to face for the 6 years that my wife fought cancer and now for the year afterwards. i have seen bravery and cancer warriors battle hard and carry forward. my wife was amazing in her battle. however, with this action, i see the exact opposite. i see cowardice and a complete lack of leadership.

  45. nancy mariola says:

    I have had cancer, It was a dark scary time in my life that same year I had 6 friends diagnosed none of their stories are pretty. I knew 2 people who lost the battle in that year, also not pretty. Angelo introduced me to a story about Isablla Santos that has changed every action that I take in a day..I am in shock over your choice to abort this exhibit. Raw is expected with cancer and you have so much to be ashamed of this morning.

  46. Kimberly says:

    “Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body. It can be done by governments and private organizations or by individuals who engage in self-censorship. It occurs in a variety of different contexts including speech, books, music, films and other arts, the press, radio, television, and the Internet for a variety of reasons including national security, to control obscenity, child pornography, and hate speech, to protect children, to promote or restrict political or religious views, to prevent slander and libel, and to protect intellectual property.”

    I am struggling to understand why you have chosen to censor such a beautiful exhibit.

  47. Kathryn says:

    I am disgusted by the disrespect that your organization has shown Angelo, Jen, their family and friends. As the daughter and granddaughter of breast cancer survivors I was inspired by his photography. Raw and real yes, but each photo was taken with such love and emotion. I am sickened by this decision, shame on The Gathering Place!

  48. Amanda Lakes says:

    The message I posted on “my wife’s fight with breast cancer” Facebook wall follows.
    I am dissapointed to see that the gathering place has chosen to remove your exhibit. As the wife of a cancer survivor and the daughter of a woman taken by cancer, I can understand that the photographs are emotionally powerful. I am sick of the “cancer community’s” stance that the only acceptable outcome – the only one we will really focus on – is a cure. For many MANY families, that is NOT their reality. People say things like “he fought bravely but eventually lost his battle with cancer”. It is infuriating. Nobody wants to face death, but some of us have no other choice. It would be nice if places like the gathering place could learn to accept that & honor those of us (you) who are surviving greif in the wake of this illness and not just those who are marginally luckier for whatever reason and survive. You are using expressive art to bring together people all over the world, most of whom were never lucky enough to know your wife personally. Your display of love, committment, endurance and hope remains an inspiration to us all. The fact that she died makes it all the more powerfully. While I wish she had been cured & was with you today, I honor your celebration of her strength, beauty & memory. Shame on you, the gathering place. Perhaps you should focus on helping your volunteers who were disturbed face the reality that not everyone is lucky. They may actually die. Their family WILL some day have to cope. Exhibits like this may disturb a few people but beyond that disturbance is peace. You have done the people you aim to serve a dis service. Very poor judgement.

  49. Diane Smith says:

    So far 41 people in these comments and 51 people on Angelo’s page, a total of 92 people, have expressed deep disappointment and a loss of faith in your organization at this decision. I wonder how many people complained about it being upsetting. Cancer IS upsetting. I think that is the point. I hope you will reconsider, based on the enormous amount of negative publicity that this is bringing upon you, not to mention the enormous amount of sadness it must be bringing to Angela. Good work.

  50. Kristin Paskowski says:

    I’m heartbroken over your decision to remove Angelo’s photography from your exhibit. I lost my mother to cancer at the age of 53 just two years ago- Angelo’s work is such a unique and realistic view at the battle both the patient and loved ones fight… As cancer survivors you should know that there are good days and bad- and Angelo chronicles these days in Jen’s fight beautifully- the exhibit is not called “cancer- the good days” I think the decision to remove these beautiful and truthful works of art is shameful and distasteful- I am truly disgusted.

  51. JW says:

    As a cancer survivor, I appreciate your efforts, however belated and confused, to be sensitive to your clients’ feelings, but I feel even more strongly that your decision reflects the cultural pressure to pinkwash breast cancer and exclude the real experiences of love and loss that come with cancer. Patients and their loved ones suffer more than necessary because we deal with cancer as though positivity were a cure, as though pain and sickness and even dying were shameful. How can you possibly imagine that you’re serving the cancer community by contributing to the pressure to hide the realities of this disease?

    These photographs are beautiful and truthful. They depict love and strength. As a cancer survivor and someone who has lost many loved ones to cancer, I found them inspiring, comforting, and honest. What a sad choice you’ve made.

  52. Rick Garcia says:

    Perhaps the Gathering Place will work with Mr. Merendino and other local agencies to find an alternate space to display this powerful and necessary exhibit. I completely understand why it’s out of place within the walls of the Gathering Place; however, I think the Gathering Place should be completely comfortable in funding or partially funding an alternate, off-site display space so that the exhibit my still be seen. Given the high-profileness and publicity surrounding this story so far, I can’t see how such a move forward could be construed as wrong by anyone.

  53. MG says:


  54. Cheri says:

    Since when is cancer so pretty that we can choose what we want others to see? Anyone dealing with cancer is facing such life changing fear and changes in their lives that unless you live in a bubble your pretty much know what some cases are like. These young,beautiful people had to live with something they did not choose, but they never lost their love for each other and their faith. I think intelligent people can see that in the pictures Angelo did and even though yes some of them were very sad to see, the love and commitment they had for each other overpowered the ugliness of the cancer. Shame on your organization for taking these wonderful pictures down.

  55. Dolores Short says:

    wow that sucks. are you going to pay for the additional grief counselling that Mr Meredino will now require? what a heartbreaking, awful and utterly wrong decision.

  56. Carra says:

    Shame on you. What an insensitive decision. May Jennifer rest in peace.

  57. Bobby B says:

    Disturbing! This exhibit was to show the Angelo cared deeply loved unconditionally, and His wives fight for her illness! Not only was it beautiful, but it was powerful! It showed the fight to keep going instead of giving up on life when told “you have cancer”! I feel sorry for tgose that come thru there that are survivors, but they need to see it not in a negative light, yet in a positive! How disappointing of your organization to approve this to be put up to only go back and pull it down! I have a birth defect and I found the art to be incredible to see a woman do brave, fighting to fight!
    You really needed to think this through! I’m appalled! Shame on your organization!

  58. Nancy Eichelberger says:

    Poor, poor decision. Yea, cancer is terrifying,and hard and not conventionally ” pretty”. Let’s just keep hiding behind platitudes….that will really fulfill your ” mission”. Not to mention your treatment of the artist. Awful.

  59. Stacey says:

    I am very saddened to hear about this today. Angelo’s work has made me appreciate the struggles families face when dealing with cancer. Jennifer had always been a source of inspiration in her lifetime and in her untimely death by her courage. The photos made so many things clear, especially Angelo’s unconditional love for his wife. Your organization should be ashamed for removing these photos.

  60. Marie Yvette Obias says:

    Having learned the news about the removal of Mr. Merendino’s art exhibit, I will no longer support your organisation and will remove my contact info from your mailing/email lists. It is a sad day when the truth about cancer cannot be shared in a meaningful way. Best of luck in trying to dig yourselves out of this selfish hole.

  61. pj harrington says:

    #14 DC Martin, said it perfectly. I ditto that…and reiterate…Shame on you.

  62. Kelly says:

    What a shame that you have made this choice. Angelo and Jen were a beautiful young couple in love and it was not easy for them to document their story, but they did a wonderful job. Cancer isn’t pretty and shame on you for taking Angelos beautiful story.

  63. Leann Spencer says:

    Angelo and Jen chose to share her journey of cancer with your facility and patrons. No, cancer is not a beautiful experience, cancer is not happy and joyful.
    Art should invoke emotion. Angelo and Jen made the horror of her fight real.
    I have the utmost respect for them, which is more than I can say for you. He has already lost his wife. You have just rubbed salt into his raw wounds.

  64. Mary says:

    I am appalled at the treatment and ultimate betrayal you have brought down on Angelo Merendino and his project. Your explanations are weak and lack constitution. The message here is that ‘We’ll fight cancer together, unless it makes us feel uncomfortable. If that happens then your experiences, joy, hope and pain need to go away.’ How incredibly vile.

  65. Amanda Perkins says:

    I am so disappointed to read this. While I applaud The Gathering Place’s efforts and can appreciate them wanting to be sympathetic to survivors, I think the decision to remove the exhibit is a poor one. Cancer (breast or otherwise) isn’t about pretty ribbons. There victories but there are losses. Angelo’s work is raw and real. It is supposed to evoke all emotions, sad and happy. It is a battle many have had to endure. Some have won, and unforunately some did not. That is a horrible fact about cancer, but one that cannot be changed by removing his exhibit. Taking it down will not make cancer less tragic or less sad. I truly hope you will reconsider this decision.

  66. Brittney says:

    Although the exhibit was not “happy” and “cheerful” it was an honest depiction of what cancer patients endure. Mr. Merendino’s work is a real eye opener. It has influnced me and many, many others to be more aware of our health – not just breast health but our overall health as well as our children’s. I understand that your mission is to support patients and families that are dealing with cancer. Support is exactly what this exhibit portrays. I am extremely dissapointed that this has been taken down as most organizations are represented by survivors that have re-gained strength and are healing both physically and emotionally. That doesn’t bring awareness. That tends to send the message that “everyone beats cancer. why should I be aware?”. This exhibit should be displayed at every health care facility, organization, and on every street corner across America just to get people to open their eyes. Cancer is not easy, Nor is it pretty but it is REAL.

    True disappointment!

  67. Kristina Johnson says:

    Shame on you for allowing him to do all that work and spend all that money preparing and traveling and then changing your mind the next day. In case you don’t know, cancer is a horrible disease that kills more people than not. I would think as an organization that claims to support cancer patients, you would want to support those who have lost loved ones to it as well. You never should have approved his installation in the first place.
    touchedbycancer.org will NEVER receive my support or donation.

  68. Susie Yuhasz says:

    I have learned more about the journey cancer brings to a family from Angelo and Jennifer than I ever realized through any organization. His photos tell a story about cancer as well as a story about love, support, family, and community. The photos are saddening at times, but he has brought awareness to thousands of people (people who donate money to find a cure)! The Gathering Place should remember that Angelo is not just an artist. He is a husband/friend who has been through this hell. He needs to be treated with the same respect and care that you give to all of your patients and families.

  69. Mark says:

    I feel it is ashamed to remove this for it shows the true meaning of support that which a man show his love for his beloved. We should not hide behind cancer his work educates, shows what a true spouse should be in the battle with cancer and the never ending love for Jennifer. We should not have “blinders” on with this disease. IT IS REAL IT IS UGLY, Yes but it gives hope to those that have gone before and their “battles that they do not choose”

    As the I awlays say to Angelo, “Peace and Love” and as Ringo, John, George, and Paul said “I get by with a lil help from my friends”

  70. Jennifer Howard says:

    Wow. For a “community based cancer ‘support’ center” this is hypocrisy. Your decision is NOT supportive at all and is extremely insensitive to a man who lovingly chronicled his wife’s battle with cancer and allowed the world to see it. No one would dispute that cancer IS emotionally upsetting, and I’m not exactly sure what these volunteers were expecting to see? I wholeheartedly agree with another respondent who said that taking “full responsibility for our mistake” would mean covering expenses and finding another gallery in which Angelo can exhibit his work. (But don’t worry, Angelo, I’m sure the calls will start coming with the controversy this is bound to ignite…which will only draw even more attention to something all the world should see). Ironically, Angelo is now fighting yet ANOTHER battle he didn’t choose, and this time, one that could have been easily avoided. This decision is very upsetting and heartless to Jennifer’s memory and Angelo’s grief.

  71. Dan says:

    Did you think this exibit wouldn’t stir the emotions of those that have and have not been touched personally by cancer? I’ve never had a loved one die of cancer, thank God, but I followed Angelo and Jen’s journey daily. Having never met them I wept when I heard she passed. Angelo documented their painful story while conveying such grace and tact while walking through such a difficult journey. Your lack of forsight and judgement is regretable and huge slap in the face first to the story of an amazing woman and her story and to a very talented and loving husband and photographer. How sad.

  72. Chandra says:

    For a support center to miss the point is deeply disturbing! Until we walk with death on our shoulder and acknowledge the fact that cancer is not pretty and pink and kills, well, we aren’t truly supporting anyone. Those in denial over death can choose not to look at the photos. Seems like a very poor decision.

  73. Jane Granzier says:

    I know the Gathering Place does exemplary work on behalf of thier clients. I have referred numerous families to them as a friend and as a social worker for over 20 years in the Cleveland community.

    Having said that, it is truly frustrating to see the unprofessional manner in which this situation was handled. Angelo Merendino’s work is so beautiful and so honestly tells the personal story of his family’s journey with cancer. The Gathering Place had ample time to review his work prior to its installation. I appreciate your efforts to respond to your staff/volunteers/community but this consultation should have occurred BEFORE you arranged the showing.

  74. Jolene says:

    This is Insane. I have been battling a incurable form of breast cancer for years, and I think the photos to be most inspiring. In fact I have documented a lot of my journey and found it has had a healing effect. Boo to that center!

  75. Removing this exhibit was a mistake. This is part of the whole societal “cancer picture” problem these days, this tendency to down play the deadliness of it, especially in regard to breast cancer. People do not need your protection from reality. People want and deserve truth, which includes showing cancer’s not so pretty side. Can this be difficult and emotionally upsetting? Of course, this is exactly why we must show it, not try to hide it.

  76. Matt says:

    Angelo’s photography is beautiful, moving and real and is such an important tribute to his late wife.

    It is hard to imagine that depriving potentially thousands of people in NE Ohio from viewing it, in order to placate what was likely three or four individuals who complained, is in the greater good of the community of those touched by cancer (myself included). This is a community and a general public that needs to have the opportunity to see this exhibit, and it stands to reason that it was a good fit at TGP because of the nature of the organization’s mission.

    It is also inconceivable to think that your organization had no idea of the tone of the photography exhibit prior to its installation. Yet you went forward with it, at great emotional, time and monetary cost to Mr. Merendino, only to pull the plug shortly after a very successful opening weekend. For that you should be ashamed and embarrassed at the way you treated Mr. Merendino and disrespected the legacy of his late wife.

    Real leadership would have found a way to mitigate the negative experience/exposure of those few that complained, so that thousands more could be rewarded and healed by experiencing the exhibit. As it is, you showed a true lack of leadership and taste, and attacked the easiest target here: the grieving, healing artist with no real recourse in the matter.

  77. Danielle B says:

    To add more from what I previously said: Let me give you a clue and advise you any CANCER IS NOT PRETTY PINK RIBBONS, NOR IS IT GLAMOROUS, IT IS NOT WEARING A SHIRT, IT IS NOT WALKING, IT’S just that CANCER!!!!!!! Angelo was doing what he only knew how to get through this terrible disease with his wife, he could not feel her pain, but he had his own, so he did what he only knew how, take pictures. This showed what cancer does to people!! Jennifer was inspiring, courage and showed strength, something your facility has forgotten!!!!! I volunteer for the 4th Angel Network at the Cleveland Clinic, and trust me they would love to have this at their facility!!!!!!!!

  78. Beth says:

    Your decision (and spineless explanation) to remove this exhibit is uglier and more hateful than cancer itself.

    This should have been thoroughly vetted before you agreed to exhibit his work and no one would have faulted you for choosing not to show it.

    Get ready for a PR nightmare once the media and BC support groups get wind of this (and they will).

    Mr. Merendino likely has legal recourse and I hope he exercises it … in fact, I plan to contact him with some names of attorneys.

    In the meantime, grow a pair and at very least, financially compensate him for his time and expenses.

    The Gathering Place disgusts me.

  79. Michele says:

    When I first saw these photos tears fell for a couple I have never met. Ive experienced pain in my life,and felt like I knew some what like she was feeling,the best word to describe it as helpless! Those photos showed what great strength this women had,and what an amazing love she shared with her amazing husband! Yes I was sadden by these photos but it encouraged me to be more aware and to encourgage my friends and family to do the same! I believe that is the point of the exhibit,to help women become more aware of how dangerous breast cancer is and to encourage women to be screened! I believe that would save many lives!! So what gives you the right to change that!! What gives you the right to stand in the way of their purpose?? Because people were emotional about it? And I bet they will tell someone about it which may encourage them to have a mammogram! Saving lives here!! Why wouldn’t you want to be apart of that?? So sadd,you were wrong in your decision and I will let the world know!!

  80. Cara says:

    I cannot express how disappointed I am to hear that Angelo’s photos were being removed from your gallery.

  81. Gayle Sulik says:

    Angelo Merendino’s photographs are compelling, compassionate, and real. They are a vision of breast cancer that is too often sugar-coated with platitudes, sassy t-shirts, fun-filled fundraising galas. I am honored to include some of Angelo’s images in the forthcoming edition of my book, “Pink Ribbon Blues.” They will be included under the heading “Beyond the culture: Everyday Life With Breast Cancer.” Until we as a society are willing to see cancer for what it is, our capacity to support the diagnosed will be sorely limited. — Gayle Sulik

  82. Helen Constantini says:

    Cancer is not calming nor soothing.
    As I battle stage 4 at the age of 37, I am appalled by your lack of empathy, judgement and Carelessness for this exhibit. . I admire all survivors, but the realty is that we all do not survive. Breast cancer is not pretty in pink. Shame on the your organization and the volunteers for not embracing Mr. Meredino’s work. It is a beautiful depiction of realty touched with endless devotion and love.
    It is the love for each other and their families that I see in the exhibit surrounded by the honest agony and defeat of cancer.
    Mr. Merendino has showed the reality of living with cancer. I chose reality over lying!

  83. Patty S. says:

    How many volunteers and participants found it “difficult and emotionally upsetting” in order for you to make this decision – two? Five? Eight?

    Cancer is difficult and emotionally upsetting, but showing unconditional love and support is something uplifting and beautiful and something that those struggling with cancer want and need to see. Not only is it upsetting that you took this down, but that you promised to make similar decisions in the future. What a sad, wrong decision that needs to be carefully thought through again. Hopefully you and your colleagues will do that and reinstate the exhibit.

  84. Amy Kalasunas says:

    The hypocrisy and poor judgement that your organization displayed is appalling. In no way would I expect your organization to have conducted itself in this manner, and I can’t imagine the message you’ve shared by removing this exhibit will be well received by anyone who has been touched by cancer. Cowardly move.

  85. Wendy says:

    So…you’re only interested in sharing art that has a ‘happy’ ending? What you’ve done is beyond disgusting–it’s a violation of the very creed of what you profess to do. We don’t need platitudes and pink ribbons–we need honesty and support.

    The actions of The Gathering Place are beyond disgusting.

  86. Andrea Knudsen says:

    I am deeply saddened and confused by your organization’s decision to remove “The Battle We Didn’t Choose” exhibit. I do not have the pleasure of knowing Angelo, nor did I have the honor of knowing Jennifer, but I know cancer. My mother-in-law died last month from glioblastoma multiforme—less than five months after her diagnosis.

    No photo exhibit can change the reality that not all cancer is curable. Of course that is our prayer, our wish, our dream. But to deny the story of a patient and her husband, and their experience living and loving DESPITE CANCER sends a TERRIBLE MESSAGE to your community: we don’t want to see your fear or your struggle. There’s no room for beauty in the midst of pain. We have no interest in your story if it doesn’t have a happy ending. We sweep under the rug anyone who has died from cancer.

    It’s a slap in the face, and that’s before you consider that hosting this photo exhibit was a business decision; stating that you regret your error doesn’t make it right. You have a decision to make: hopefully you will honor cancer patients—present and past—and their families and continue to host this exhibit. And if not, you have a responsibility to compensate Angelo for his time and expenses.

  87. AM says:

    The PR nightmare for you that will follow this will be richly deserved. What will hopefully follow for cancer victims, survivors, their loved ones, and Angelo, is an enormous burst of publicity about needing to see inspiring exhibitions just such as this. I hope for Angelo that his exhibition gets picked up and goes global, is on display at the Met, and the National Gallery in London, along with the story of how that came to pass. So thank you, perhaps, but I fear for the future of your organization in the backlash of disgust that is already gathering. May God forgive you for this action.

  88. Ned Boulder says:

    I hope that someone in this thread has access to mainstream media and is sending this story to them right now.

  89. Sarah Gann says:

    How bad will this fallout be? One word. Komen.

  90. melissa says:

    Bad choice

  91. Tony Erba says:

    Way to go. You just ruined your rep and heaped a pile of sorrow and heartache onto a man who’s been through quite enough already,don’t you think? Cancer’s not pretty pink ribbons,as stated perfectly by someone else above. This exhibit is what it IS. Unsettling? Of course. Touching? Unimaginably. Go blow.

  92. Pat Elliott says:

    As a breast cancer survivor and patient advocate i am outraged by these actions and your organizational response. Forming a committee to review art does not address the problem here, which is a failure to understand the lack the realities and priorities of the breast cancer community. If you truly want to “learn” from this experience then you will also develop a forum in which real patients, real survivors and real caregivers have input into your operations, programs and services, including art exhibits.

  93. Rob Sherwood says:

    Shame on you !

  94. cara says:

    You wrote such a lovely apology, but blatantly lied when you said you “cannot change the outcome” and “have learned” from the experience. Anyone with any sense of human decency and/or pr experience would have advised you to issue a public apology and put up the display. Simple solution to what has now become a public relations nightmare for you, I’m sure. And it’s a simple way to make things wrong right again. As another commenter alreday said, cancer is not all pretty pink ribbons. Your staff members SHOULD get emotional. Feeling emotion is a good thing, especially when it includes love and sympathy and the case of cancer patients empathy. I work with terminal children and ball my eyes out during a yearly telethon – the stories, the pictures, the interviews, are all heart wrenching…but that’s the truth of their lives and it is that emotion that drives people to donate and help. I’m so floored at this whole scenario.

  95. Jessica says:

    News flash: Cancer IS upsetting. Do you plan on replacing his photos with portraits of unicorns? For God’s sake. This is a deplorable decision. Shame on you.

  96. […] the event. After a successful opening, The Gathering Place pulled the exhibit. According to the blog announcement, “Some of our volunteers (many of whom are cancer survivors) and our participants found it […]

  97. Vico Gans says:

    Taking down the show was a bad decision. The show is beautiful, moving, honest, sensitive, candid. people can always turn away if they can’t handle what they see. Others will be enlightened, and their lives enriched. Angelo should be compensated.

  98. David S says:

    It’s very disappointing that you would take down this exhibit. I’m sure your organization did not blindly decide to display Angelo’s images. I unfortunately was unable to attend the opening, although I did attend an eariler exhibition at the 78th Street Galleries. The images are moving and sometimes hard to look at. It really puts you in the place of a patient and their family, it shows you the day to day struggles. My heart goes out to Angelo and his family.

    As a fellow photographer who has done large exhibits, I understand the time and handwork that goes into the creation of a show after the image has been captured. Out of respect for Angelo your organization should work hard to secure a new place to display his images or reimburse him for his time and expenses.

  99. Shannon says:

    Cancer is painful. These pictures honor strength and beauty during a horrific storm. The raw and true emotion of this work shows love and compassion. Taking it down is the wrong decision.

  100. Melanie says:

    Angelo and Jens story is true, real and touching. May you remember that Cancer is going to be hard and emotionally upsetting. The gathering place needs to realize that “masking” the reality of cancer and always creating “happy endings” is false. Your center is unbelievably dissappointing.

    Angelo, you are amazing and inspiring. Your dedication, support and love for Jen will carry on. As for the gathering place, shame on you

  101. Amanda Marko says:

    What I saw in photos was a deeply beautiful love story and a life that was lived fully, but was cut short.

    I would imagine that because of this controversy, more people will view the pictures than would have if the exhibit had never happened and that donations to The Gathering Place will be negatively impacted. If you haven’t done so already, I suggest you retain a good crisis communcations team like Hennes Paynter because you are already way out of your league.

  102. Jennifer Luther says:

    I grew up with Angelo’s wife. Angelo has done an amazing thing with the beautiful pictures he took of his wife. It was their life. They lived it everyday for years. Sometimes in life people will be offeneded and they will also get over it. I only wish that who’s ever decision it was to take the photos down had enough back bone to remember why they decided to put it up in the first place.

  103. Kara Ponzo says:

    Art is meant to speak to the masses, not a few individuals who can’t stomach a very harsh reality. Your organization is going to lose so much support because of this decision, as it should. In the past I’ve been told how “caring” your center is….I’m a cancer survivor and I am soooo glad I’ve never stepped foot in such a censored establishment. Shame on you! I hope your doors close and whatever funding you receive goes to a more open and truly caring cancer community.

  104. Trina says:

    Shame on you for being so insensitive and becoming the almighty as to choose which emotions are allowed and not allowed to be felt by those affected by cancer. It’s sad that your organization is unwilling to be open-minded and realistic with many of the emotions felt by viewing Angelo’s photographs. It’s sad what an unrealistic perception this organization has about happiness and strength when it comes to cancer when in fact it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Shame on you…

  105. Marsha Kramer says:

    Were you not paying attention during the Komen debacle?? People are STILl ANGRY about it! I am now wondering about your annual salaries and how your charitable donations are spent. Did you really want the negative publicity and increased scrutiny that accompanies a public backlash? Surely, it will not help anyone suffering from cancer. I’m hoping this was merely a thoughtless, misguided decision and not an act of pure human evil.

  106. Theresa L says:

    As a bc cancer survivor I understand and respect every survivor and how they choose to cope with their diagnosis and deal with the aftermath. It’s like a fingerprint, Everyone’s journey is unique and different. However, This exhibit is how Angelo Merendino contiues to cope with his loss. I strongly feel you lost sight of his purpose :(

  107. Jenn says:

    Wow. How absolutely disrespectful. Contrary to your words here, you’ve clearly learned nothing. What a disgrace.

  108. Metasta-Sister says:

    This is a slap in the face to all of us living with stage IV cancer. We are the one who know we are going to die from this disease. We know we are also the worst nightmare of the stage I “survivors”. But I have even uglier news: 20 to 30% of them WILL become us. (see http://mbcn.org/developing-awareness/category/13-things-everyone-should-know-about-metastatic-breast-cancer/)

    Their discomfort doesn’t give them or you the right to try to pretend we don’t exist, or hide us. Put up a warning, if you must: “This exhibit contains images that may disturb you. But they may also inspire you. Be warned.”

    These photos are acts of enormous love for a person going through hell, by the person going through hell with her. They are beautiful, and they are real.

    So are we. Hiding us in the closet, or onco-ward, will not make us go away. Only research for better treatments and prevention will do that.

    But do not insult us, and our strength to live as long as we can despite the odds against us, by letting other people’s fear of us take down this marvelous exhibit.

  109. Lenaia says:

    Shame on you. Cancer is not pretty and peaceful. It’s scary and sad and painful for those who are battling cancer and those that love that person. That is what these photographs show, the reality behind cancer, your volunteers are probably very aware of this. You were given an opportunity to teach others in the community & now because some people are offended by the pictures you are taking it down? You are taking the easy way out instead of using this exhibit to educate & support others. I hope you reimburse this young man for the time & money that he put into getting this exhibit up.

  110. Amanda Case says:

    My mother succumbed to cancer several years ago. What did you think the exhibit was about, lollipops and sunshine? It is about cancer…all aspects of it. It is a beautiful, heartfelt portrayal of love, family and devotion. Angelo’s work is a stunning and poignant portrayal of truth. To shield anyone from that truth as a cancer center is simply beyond comprehension. I can only imagine that your censorship will bring about the wrath of many and will negatively impact the support of your center.

    It is clear you are out of touch.

    Worst of all, people who could be inspired by Jen’s story and Angelo’s beautiful work of art and love will not have the opportunity.

    Your actions are outrageous and ignorant.

    You should be ashamed of your decision and reimburse Angelo for every dime he spent presenting his exhibit.

  111. Tgg says:

    Cowards. This is despicable. It’s like you are denying her right to be seen. She already died; don’t kill her again.

  112. Anne says:

    I’m extremely dissapointed that the exhibit was taken down. While in treatment for a second cancer, I viewed a number of his photographs, website, other exhibits and found them moving and a portrayal of reality. Hard to view? Yes. Realistic to what we deal with? Very much so.

    Perhaps you feel (after the fact) it was the wrong venue to display them but it’s difficult to imagine you weren’t aware of what Angelo’s work was. His photos are a moving portrayal of the side of breast cancer that is far too often hidden.

    While many survive, many do not. Contrary to what many want to believe, cancer isn’t like the flu, something that you get over. It’s with you for the rest of your life. Whether that’s mere weeks or many decades.

    Take a look at the Scar Project. It too was another compelling photo project. One that you may also find disturbing.

    Please reconsider.

  113. Lost Hope says:

    I lost a loved one to cancer. Through her entire journey, she held on to every glimpse of hope she could find. A place like the Gathering Place provides is there to provide support, hope, and comfort. I cannot imagine walking into a place for help through cancer, and being slapped with the reality of what could happen. How is that providing hope?

    Everyone at The Gathering Place is there because they have cancer, a loved one does, or they have lost a family member. They are not trying to “pink wash” their situation, or hide the awful effects of cancer. They are afraid, in pain, and searching for hope. Don’t take that away from them.

    The photos appear to be artistic, so wouldn’t an art gallery be a more approprate venue?

    I have to wonder how the Merendino’s would have felt if they walked in to see a similar exhibit after just being diagnosed, or after losing someone to cancer.

    • EB says:

      People can agree or disagree with much of what you said re. the implications of a place like The Gathering Place having photos like Mr. Meredino’s–and I think that’s an important discussion to have for many of the reasons already posted by others here. (I happen to think that people are served by having photographs like Mr. Meredino’s on view, but I respect differing opinions on the matter and think we collectively need to talk more openly about how we discuss and depict cancer.)

      BUT that’s not the only point, and you haven’t really spoken to what makes this situation **truly unconscionable**. That is, The Gathering Place allowed someone to put their time, money, and effort into doing something only to pull the plug after the fact. On one level this is **completely** unprofessional and reveals terrible management with a startling lack of foresight. (Who would want to trust an organization that is so unreliable and inconsistent?)

      Worse, though, they personally, artistically, financially, professionally–and I have to think emotionally–undermined one of the very people who their organization claims to serve. (“The Gathering Place: A Caring Community For Those Touched by Cancer”–for those touched by cancer *except*, of course, for Angelo Meredino.) How could anyone in any cancer community trust an organization who does this to another member of a cancer community?

  114. Sharron says:

    We really should have paid more attention to the by-line of your organization . . a Caring Community for those “touched” by cancer. I guess for the millions of us that don’t have a cheerful, pretty story you aren’t the least bit interested.

    Cancer is ugly. Behind all that pink are a lot of very unsatisfactory outcomes. I had stage I breast cancer in 1999. I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy with chemotherapy. Fast forward to over TEN YEARS later….. Being diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic cancer. My case, unfortunately, is not that unusual. No one is ever safe from a recurrence of cancer.

    I haven’t been “touched” by cancer, I’ve been ran over by it. You should have proudly allowed this exhibit to be shown – reality is tough.

  115. Charlotte Shackleford says:

    Gathering Place….You should be ASHAMED of yourself! Cancer is not pretty, peaceful, or nurturing and should NEVER be portrayed that way. This exhibit is powerful, truthful and raw. It depicts cancer as the monster it is, and shows a beautiful woman who never gave up on life. The LOVE that was shared between Jen and Angelo can be seen in each and every photo, as she allows him to photograph her in the most vulnerable stages of her battle. It is obvious that you have learned nothing if you believe that cancer should be seen as rainbows and unicorns. I am floored by your decision and utterly disgusted that you claim to provide a “caring community” to those touched by cancer.

  116. Nick says:

    What a poor decision to take down a powerful exhibition, especially after it had already opened. I hope that you realize that your decision was a mistake.

  117. MaryAnn & Allan says:

    A truth: A self-centered volunteer confronted Angelo before the opening Friday, telling him his perspective was from a male point of view. Angelo’s perspective is from his heart, through the eye of his camera, backed with Jen’s love and desire that her photos be shown. Men suffer greatly from the ravages wreaked on women by this disease and guess what? Men get breast cancer also; their point of view should be acknowledged. The Gathering Placed has excluded from its support a large part of the population affected by breast cancer. We can no longer support the mission of The Gathering Place.

  118. Julie Anne says:

    I am outraged by your request to remove the “The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight With Breast Cancer” exhibit.

    I have Metastatic Breast Cancer (Stage IV) and cannot believe a place that is set up to help people with cancer would remove the exhibit. Although I have not personally been able to view the exhibit, I have seen it shown on YouTube and while the pictures may be disturbing for some, they are the TRUE journey of breast cancer – for those of us who cannot be cured, for those of us who are LIVING and DYING of the disease.

    This man poured his heart out into this work and journaled what must have been a torturous time in his life, because he loved his wife so much, he wanted to show that she mattered and that he will always love her. YOU invited him to display the exhibit, YOU viewed the work beforehand. If you felt the pictures were disturbing in nature YOU should have posted warning notices and not just request the entire exhibit be removed.

    Breast cancer is not pretty and pink, not everyone survives. I am so tired of the Pink Parade and everyone trying to sweep us under the rug. You are a disgrace to the memory of Jennifer Wise Merendino.

  119. Sarah Branson says:

    You say you can’t change the outcome. Why not? It was easy enough to choose to remove the art when it upset a few. You have now upset hundreds by not showing the exhibition. Couldn’t The Gathering Place display the photographs with an introductory piece that states they may be upsetting to some? Then people could choose whether to view it or not.
    The organization needs to meet its commitment.

  120. Christy says:

    I am saddened and dumbfounded to hear of the removal of the exhibit. What a foolish decision to make. Cancer is ugly and knows no boundaries. Angelo’s photos are the reality of what cancer can do…but mostly I see the love that he has for Jen. What a remarkable tribute to a wonderful woman.

  121. Susan says:

    Put the exhibit back up!!

  122. Andrea Fechner says:

    I am so disappointed in your decision. With sensitive matters such as these, you really should have examined both sides of the coin before agreeing to showcase his work. The fault here lies entirely on your shoulders.

  123. Claudia Hehr says:

    I am a friend of Angelo and fellow photographer. I know first hand what incredible amount of work went into preparing for the exhibition. It is absolutely unacceptable to have him go through all this work, time and money for the exhibition only to cancel it after the opening ! It was your responsibility to screen the work beforehand. I understand that some of the images might be hard for people to look at. But I’ve heard it over and over that people want to know the truth about cancer. No sugarcoating, no pink ribbons. Angelo’s story is a remarkable story of love and strength, not only about the hardship of cancer. It is inspiring thousands of cancer patients, survivors, friends and family. You are making a huge mistake in taking the images down. Please reconsider your decision and listen to all the people that are speaking in behalf of Angelo and Jen.

  124. Sarah says:

    Such a poor decision on the part of this organization to shut down this exhibit. It’s clear from the 100+ comments here that my sentiments are felt by the masses. It’s so disrespectful to the photographer, to his wife’s memory, and to the people who have found strength in these photographs to dismiss them and shut it down.

  125. Stacy says:

    While not a survivor myself, I watched two family members die in front of me from cancer, literally. I was moved by the photographs and it made me remember the good and bad of what a family goes through when stricken with cancer. It is a shame that the thoughts of few ruined an exhibit helping many.

  126. Danielle says:

    I’m shocked and saddened by this decision. My heart goes out to my friends Angelo and Jennifer. If this photo journal is stirring up emotion, then mission accomplished. Isn’t that what a personal, emotional photo essay is supposed to do?


  127. Lisa Moran says:

    I have been moved deeply by Angelo’s work since I learned of his photographs about 18 months ago. Angelo’s work is REAL LIFE, it’s not a bunch of pink and frills and ‘yay, find a cure’ rallies. Angelo and Jen taught me about love and hope and courage and healing and strength and above all, reality.

    Shame on you for not doing what is right. The feelings of a few should not mean that Angelo’s thousands of hours of work, energy, thought, money and emotions should go to waste. Or that Jen’s journey is somehow less important than others’ because she is no longer here. I was at the opening and although I had seen the images before, to look at them in real life took my breath away. So carefully thought out, each one telling a story. Each one teaching a lesson. Jen’s legacy and Angelo’s grief are just as valuable as your volunteers and participants. What an awful thing to do to them.

  128. ilham Zrida says:

    What a disgrace to this organization! this is not HOLLYWOOD! SHAME ON YOU FOR STOPPING the exhibition. Who are you to decide whose testimonial is worthy or not!

  129. CS says:


    I have no other words for how awful I feel for Angelo. I only hope he sees all of these messages and knows he has the love and support of hundreds of people who are thinking of him and Jen right now.

  130. Jordan says:

    Censorship never leads to anything good. The world needs to know how ugly this disease is. How are people to support something if they don’t know the consequences of letting it go?

  131. Steve says:

    Very disappointing decision. Very poorly handled once the concerns were raised. Why not sequester the exhibit with screening and post a warning alerting to potentially disturbing images that depict a real life battle with cancer?

    I question the process the organization uses to evaluate exhibitions. You mean to tell me that the possibility of the images being disturbing to SOME was never considered? Plans to address this possibility not discussed? Apparently not, based on the knee-jerk reaction and decision.

    Leadership and the Board missed an unprecedented opportunity to stand behind an exhibit they SHOULD be fighting to show. Show some fortitude and do the right thing, redisplay the exhibit with appropriate warnings. I feel you are doing an injustice to all cancer victims and survivors with the current decision.

  132. Christine says:

    Your decision is a disgrace and shameful. Angelo and Jennifer’s story is so powerful, it deserves to be shown. Angelo’s was nothing but support and love during Jennifer’s battle with cancer. Yes, some of the pictures are difficult to watch, but what do people expect when one is fighting cancer?? What Angelo did is put forward the reality of what living with cancer was for his wife and himself.
    I do not know what pressures your are bowing to but there are no words to express how disappointed many of us are.
    Shame on you!

  133. Steve B says:

    I think the wrong decision was made in taking down the exhibit. From what I have seen of it I know that it is a heartbreaking, loving, and real portrait of cancer as well as artisticly well done. I imagine it could be upsetting, but it probably is equally humbling to those whose battle with cancer went better than Angelo’s wife’s fight.

  134. Bud says:

    Very poor decision, indeed! People with cancer need to know the whole truth, not some sugar coated story. Cancer is a mean disease. Myself,personally, would rather have all the facts. Shame on you!

  135. Evon says:

    Not pink and pretty enough for you guys? I am a stage IV with Mets Inflammatory Breast Cancer patient under treatment for going on 3 years and this is real, shame on you for not portraying the true pictures of this terrible disease. It seems to me that you have bought into the pink washing of this monster.

  136. Rev. Karen Heyburn says:

    I attended the opening of that exhibit, grateful that The Gathering Place recognized the depth, pain, and hope that Angelo’s photos illuminate. I remarked to several friends later that I was impressed at the work your group has been doing to support cancer patients and families. This decision, however, leads me to wonder if your brochures were only information hyperbole. A large part of support for those with cancer and their families is facing all the parts, including the ugly and painful ones, of this disease. Perhaps if you have volunteers who are uncomfortable with the display, it would have been more important to help them get counseling insight into why, and not knee-jerk react, thereby denying so many others the experience that might lead to better understanding and more support and advocacy. One thing cancer survivors learn is that, unless you tackle the disease head-on, you are in danger of being conquered – not conquerer. Jen was a conquerer. She lived life her way and didn’t let cancer rule. So sad that you, of all groups, can’t seem to see that fact. I will be withdrawing my support for your group’s efforts, and advising others that the exhibit is gone and there is no need to seek out The Gathering Place.

  137. Michelle Mc says:

    One week ago, I flew to Ohio to support Angelo on the opening night of his Exhibit at the Gathering Place. Today, I am shocked & appalled by your decision to close this exhibit down. These photos are beautiful & there are so many lessons to be learned from them. They teach us what unconditional love, courage, strength are all about. The pictures are difficult sometimes to look at, but cancer is both difficult & not pretty – & these photos & the love story behind them is something everyone should learn about as it restores your faith in humanity. The even bigger shame is that this happened in Angelo & Jennifer’s home state. I will choose to remember all the love that was in that room last Friday & how proud we all were of both of them. As a friend of Jennifer & Angelo & the daughter of a beautiful woman who also died way too early from this disease, I say Shame On You & your organization for closing the exhibit down. The photos are beautiful & it’s a shame some people associated with your group are so narrow minded they cannot see the beauty, love & truth that are portrayed in Angelo’s photos.

  138. I just read this and unfortunately have experienced this kind of reaction before as well. However, I would love to invite Angelo Merendino and anyone else who makes art work expressing concerns about breast and ovarian cancer to submit to our annual exhibit,
    Voices and Visions, Standing on the Bridge Between Health and Disease.
    This is the 3rd annual exhibit which includes a call for statements by anyone voicing their own experiences with cancer, answering the question “how has cancer or the threat of cancer affected your life?” After reading this blog I am optimistic that there are a lot of us with shared experiences looking for connection with each other. There is also opportunity to join the traveling exhibit which has been going to cancer centers throughout the country. I hope to turn this negative experience into one that broadens Angelo’s exposure and shows how much art is needed.

  139. David D says:

    This is one of the saddest things I have read in a long, long time. How can an organization whose mission it is to “support, educate and empower individuals and families touched by cancer through programs and services provided free of charge” possibly think that this is the right thing to do?? Cancer is a horrible, ugly disease and attempting to sugar coat it with pink ribbons doesn’t make it any less awful. What a tragic day for Angelo, Jennifer and the people of NE Ohio. Shame on you, Gathering Place!

  140. TV says:

    “Some of our volunteers and our participants found it very difficult and emotionally upsetting”. What about the some of us who found it healing and powerful. Will you be shutting down future exhibits if some find them upsetting? So very wrong of you for supporting it and then calling it a mistake. I am deeply disturb by this blog.

  141. Carrie says:

    I do not know Angelo or Jen, but have followed them through a friend on facebook.Your organizataion is supposed to be a place for healing,for people touched by cancer. I feel that you have done a huge disservice to the Cancer community, to families dealing with cancer, to Angelo and Jen personally and professionally and your business. My father passed to Cancer, and I would never go to such a one sided place as yours. You have “touched” me. You have touched me in a negative way. Your business is inconsiderate, insensitive, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Angleo shows a painfully sad as well as loving picture of life with Jen. You should certainly reimburse Angelo for his time and expenses and you should keep the exhibit up, if he would allow you to. He may not want to be a part of such a “touching” community, and I don’t blame him if he doesn’t want to be. I think the Volunteers, should be made aware of what exhibits are coming in, and if it is too painful, then they don’t volunteer for that exhibit. Don’t punish the artist more, than what he has been through already. The volunteers, of all people, should be aware of how traumatic, raw, sad, loving, and emotional cancer can be. They should want to put it out there, so there can be a cure. I am completely disgusted by your entire organization. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I think maybe you should consider closing your doors, if an exhibit like this is too much for you all to handle. Angelo, they are making a terrible mistake. Your work is beautiful. You paint a picture of a beautiful love story and dedication to Jen, who clearly, meant more to you than anything in the world. Keep up the good work and thank you for educating us all, on Cancer and most importantly on what is important in life. Too bad The Gathering Place wasn’t smart enough to pick up on that.

  142. Laura Webb - Jennifer's Sister says:

    I want to thank The Gathering Place in Westlake for hosting the Fundraiser and Exhibition about my amazing and beautiful sister, Jennifer Wise Merendino’s journey with breast cancer. Her husband, Angelo Merendino, lovingly put together a collection of photos that depicted her courageous battle to help raise awareness of the impact of cancer on an individual and their support system. Although we are disappointed in the decision to end the show early, I know with all of my heart that Jennifer would never support any action that is intended to hurt or malign an organization that has helped and continues to support so many people through their journeys with cancer. Angelo and Jen have helped so many people with their story, let’s not try to hurt others who are helping because of artistic differences. I would ask, that instead, we channel our time and effort into finding other vehicles for Angelo to help get his message out. Thank you for your support.

    • Janiece says:

      This is not about artistic differences, but about breach of contract.

      • Laura Webb says:

        Janiece, my friend, I understand and agree they broke the agreement. But I believe it is a private matter between Angelo and The Gathering Place. I do not believe posting a press release to fans and sitting by while a caring organization is attacked is a fair or appropriate relolution. All they want to do is help the people of their community. I felt sorry for Ange when they pulled this, but I am deeply saddened by the response.

        Jennifer went out of her way to make people happy, and help people. She helped raise funds to help people affected by cancer through various charities. I can’t believe she would approve.

        • Janiece says:

          1. This ceased to be a private matter once the exhibit was pubically announced.

          2. Angelo is not responsible for the reactions of others, nor did he galvanize people to behave the way they have. At the same time, people have a first amendment right to free speech. The comments made fall within that right.

          3. While The Gatheing Place has a right to determine what exhibits are displayed in their gallery, they also have a legal obligation to honor their contractual agreements.

    • Peggy says:

      thank you Laura, for your understanding…I”m a volunteer at TGP.

      • Janiece says:

        While The Gatheing Place has a right to determine what exhibits are displayed in their gallery, they also have a legal obligation to honor their contractual agreements.

  143. Brantley C says:

    I personally find this disgusting and disrespectful on your part. Cancer is not something to be sugarcoated. It sucks, it is “difficult and emotionally upsetting”. Your organization is turning its back on people who have suffered and continue to suffer which is the opposite of what you claim to do. Shame on you for taking down this testament of love, devotion, and courage.

  144. Desiree Smith says:

    I am shocked that such a reputable organization would have such low class ans standards. I only hope that TGP comes to realize the depth of disappointment and confusion this has caused many!!!!!!! :(((((((

  145. Dennis says:

    I am saddened to see that this has occurred. Question to your staff and volunteers that wanted the exhibit removed: If you had someone suffering from cancer that looked like they had been through everything Jen had…would you then turn them away and send them out the door…because it wasn’t happy?

  146. Donna says:

    I have no doubt that someone in your organization had previuosly viewed Angelo’s photos. Clearly that person felt that even though some may have been gripping and raw, that they reflected the truth about this disease and more importantly, it’s effect on the lives of not just the patient, but their loved ones.
    That being said, how is it, exactly, that because a limited number of people (we don’t knwo how many or whom) may object to it’s reality, that it is too hurtful to remain on view?
    If you plan to have a ‘committee’ to review the art, will the person(s) who objected to this display occupy a seat? If so, perhaps you should reconsider your plan.
    Instead of abruptly aborting the display of Angelo’s story and artwork, perhaps you should have merely posted a disclaimer at the entrance of the display stating that some of the photos are a candid, graphic, personal, gut-wrenching, truthful representation of an equally graphic, gut-wrenching disease that some may find too powerful to view without discomfort.
    Wouldn’t that have served the same purpose, without demeaning the memory of Jennifer and the hard work of Angelo?
    That way, the few who objected could have elected not to view it, and the remainder of us could have felt it’s power and benefit.
    Your decision was a knee-jerk reaction to a clearly small (judging by the email responses) number of viewers. I did not count one emailer who supported your poorly written, ill-timed excuse for this decision. What does that say about the wisdom of it?
    You have done a disservice to the Merendino’s, to cancer survivors, to their families, and to the public, all of whom are perfectly capable of leaving an exhibit that they might find too emotional, too offensive, or too graphic in some way. At a minimum you should find a way to reimburse Angelo for the time and effort that he put into this show, and at the same time, find a wet rag large enough to wipe the egg of of your collective faces.

  147. Jim Alunni says:

    I agree with 99% of the responses here, I never heard of the Gathering Place before Jen and Angelo but now I will always have one bad memory of it. I attended the opening and, though having seen the photographs several times before, was still moved. It’s hard still to see a dear friend who most of of have lost. Even harder is ignoring their fight.

  148. Victoria Ford says:

    Here we go again! Breast cancer is ONLY about the pink fluffy survivors who are upset that some of us are Stage IV and are going to die from this disease. Why? Because they are so selfish that they don’t want to think about this? Goes well with a friend who went to a breast cancer “support” group and when the rest of them (all pink fluffy people) found out she was Stage IV they wouldn’t speak to her. Or another friend who went to another “support” group and was told up front that she was not allowed to say she was Stage IV, so ended up giving support to the whinging Stage I or IIs, but getting none herself. I hope those who complained realise how selfish and shallow they are; and I just hope they never live to hear that they are Stage IV themselves and that others won’t turn their backs on them as they have done to Angelo and Jennifer Merendino.

    • Peggy says:

      I resent being referred to as a “pink fluffy survivor”. Did you wear MY shoes on my cancer journey? I have friends who have suffered and died from breast cancer and I DID have to face it, think about it and deal with my grief at their loss. Your ignorance is only showing how selfish YOU are.

  149. Alli says:

    Breast Cancer is ugly, it isn’t a pretty cancer that you dress up in pink. I have been following this blog for months. It causes pain, breaks your heart, affects the very core of your soul. This is the reality of life and death. Shame and double shame….in removing an exhibit so poignant because it made a few uncomfortable. Perhaps they should stay home not attend. I have Breast Cancer. I hope and pray I have an ending with such Grace Dignity and Peace that Jen did. Angelo’s exhibit is a gift to be appreciated…. Alli.

  150. Susan Towers says:

    I was most surprised to read of your decision to remove the exhibition. There’s no doubt some of the photos are powerful and evoke a strong emotional respose – as they should. But it’s important to address ALL outcomes – good and bad – and for people to recognize the real day to day challenges of dealing with cancer. Angelo and Jennifer’s story is powerful because ultimately it is about love and strength and beauty in the face of unimaginable pain and suffering. Stand up to cancer. Stand up to censorship. This is censorship and the board of the Gathering Place should have stood up to this decision if they were alerted to it. Very disappointing decision on your part.

  151. Darren Kuhnau says:

    What a shame that you have decided to take down this poignant and beautiful collection of photos that brilliantly expose a perspective on cancer that few of us experience in our day-to-day lives and interactions. As an art director, I can appreciate the struggle, sadness, pain and fear in these photos. But, without that, we cannot appreciate the beauty, courage, love, dignity, and ultimately peace that is present in them. As a place of support, I cannot understand how you could deny this chance to so many people. Best wishes on finding your way.

  152. Mia says:

    I’m just adding another disappointed voice to the eloquent voices above.

  153. Maxine Bates says:

    The person who is the most emotionally effected by the pictures is the one who took them, lived them, and lost the love his life, yet that is not important to the Center. What did the volunteers and survivors think the exhibit was about? Only happy times? Seriously. If there are things I don’t feel I can emotionally handle, I don’t view them. It was THEIR choice to view the photos. It wasn’t Angelo or Jen’s choice have cancer and deal with the final result.

    I sincerely the Center and those who complained step up and reimburse Angelo for his expenses, because none of you can EVER make up for the emotional roller coaster that you have put him through by this cowardly act.

  154. Jean L says:

    I am so saddened that you took down Angelo’s exhibit documenting his deep love and caring for his loving wife during her battle cancer.i am a 2 time survior and found this photos and sorry to be very healing and up lifting. I have family in Ohio and I will be sure to pass this dispicible act on to them. Shame on you!

  155. Carol says:

    I am appalled. I am a survivor and must admit, the scars have never left. From diagnosis to treatment to survival, I have to say the survival period has been the toughest. I am a “new” version of who I had known for 50 years. Scarred, insecure at times and no longer a quick thinker like before. Breast cancer is an ugly disease and for someone, especially a survivor,to want to sugar coat the truth is very upsetting to me.

    Angelo’s photographs are beautiful, frightening, compelling and bring strength to others when you begin to realize the life altering experience that cancer brings. Those who truly understand see so much more in the pictures. For they are not just the physical but the story of love, fear, strength and perseverance. For all of the good that the Gathering Place has done, this act of cowardice taints that good work.

    As mentioned by others, at the minimum, Angelo deserves an apology and funds to make him whole from the time and expense he has incurred. An apology to survivors would be in order as well.

  156. Rose says:

    Like many others, I am shocked and disgusted with this decision. You should revise your mission as one to provide programs and services to address ONLY the needs of individuals with EARLY-STAGE cancer (the kind foolish people think are curable). Your actions make it very clear that you do not support those with advanced cancer.

    I hope all who want to support support cancer patients will reconsider supporting your organization in favor of ones that support all cancer patients, including those that will not get the happy ending.

  157. Sabrina says:

    I’m shocked at the ignorance that your gallery has displayed. You are supposed to be a support place for cancer victims and survivors. Yet when the truth hits you, you scamper away like a rat. Shame on you. I hope your not federally funded because I am going to make some noise. Hope you lose all support and funding.

  158. Metasta-Sister says:

    I actually don’t hope you lose support and funding, just as I don’t believe in the death penalty for one mistake. Those of us touched by cancer need all the help we can get, and it sounds like you do a lot of good things.

    But you made the wrong decision in this case, and a again urge you to reconsider and reverse it.

    It is difficult to admit that you made a mistake and undo it, but you’ve had a little practice lately, so it won’t be too hard.

    (See my original reponse at #108.

  159. June Rheingrover says:

    Good grief…..if cancer were pretty than everyone would want it…I am living with MBC….and these photos show what the last steps of that journey will be…..For me these photos actually were nurturing, peaceful and healing because I finally found VALIDATION….and isn’t that the mission statement of The Gathering Place?

    • Lisa Kurtz-Myers says:

      Add me to the long list of people who are stunned and disgusted with you. I recently finished nearly two years of treatment for breast cancer. One thing I have learned is that cancer patients react in all sorts of different ways to their diagnosis and treatment. How is it that your organization didn’t seem to understand that some people would be upset by Angelo’s photographs of Jen, some people would feel strengthened, and some people would feel both?? This gallery show has been planned for months!! Is The Gathering Place really so incompetent that they didn’t understand the content of the show and the variety of reactions that would result?? Personally, I found the photographs to be about love, friendship, strength, staying the course, and staying true in the face of great hardship. I don’t think your organization can handle having a gallery. Obviously.

  160. Sandra Hammond says:

    You say that you have learned from this experience, but I do not believe that. You will have learned when you reopen Angelo’s pictures of Jen and her fight with cancer. My sister has been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and is in her own fight. Neither of us finds this exhibit offensive in any way…troubling – of course. Cancer is troubling. Open this exhibit once again to allow even more people to see and appreciate what cancer patients fight and many times survive.

  161. Lisa Hall says:

    I am proud to see so many ppl united to lecture you on your poor decision. Were there this many ppl at your gallery who found the images disturbing to them? I highly doubt it. As a mother who lost her child to cancer, yes it is painful to watch another suffer and then to eventually lose. But the display is not about loss. It is not about death. It is about hope. It is about love. It is about courage. This is all I see when I look at these pictures. I think any cancer sufferer who cannot look to Jen as an example of strength then they are travelling a sad road.

  162. Erik Friedlander says:

    My wife recently died from breast cancer complications. She and I both found Angelo’s pictures to be moving and beautiful.

    You had all the time in the world to consider this invitation. Once the show was up, the best move would have been to open up conversations with the community — seize the opportunity these amazing pictures had created, by convening a dialogue with everyone who was offended, moved, scared, inspired. Canceling the show is an opportunity lost for the entire TGP community, and demonstrates a significant lack of leadership.

  163. Kathryn says:

    Cancer is brutal. Taking photos down because it is too hard for others to look at it??? Shame on you! Too damn bad if this is too hard for you to look at. Imagine how hard it is for Mr. Merendino to “look at” on a daily basis for the rest of his life. Closing your eyes and running away from these photos does not make cancer go away. All this does is leave Mr. Merendino and others who have lost a loved one more isolated and alone. We must come together as a community and embrace those who have lost loved ones. No one should not be allowed the the luxury of walking away because looking at cancer is too painful or difficult to handle. Shame on you and your organization for not embracing Mr. Merendino and acknowledging his beautiful wife and others who have bravely fought this battle.

  164. Amanda Rusmisell says:

    I find your action appalling in three ways. First of all, you broke your word to Angelo. He put a lot of work (both emotionally and physically) into this show. Second of all, you let down your community. This was a fabulous opportunity to reach out and touch so many people. Lastly, you missed a fabulous opportunity to help those individual’s to dig into their emotions and grow. Instead, you helped certain individuals cover them up.

    It is never to late to right a wrong.

  165. Michelle says:

    Put it back up and then I will make a donation! Until then, nada!

  166. Michael Quirk says:

    This is nothing less than an attempt to sanitize very ugly truths which people with this horrible disease must confront. It kills. It maims. There is a likelihood many afflicted people will not survive. But as in all things, mere survival isn’t really the goal, is it? I think not. Instead, it’s about the grace and courage those with cancer bring to their struggle. In taking down this exhibit that documents the bravery of Jennifer Merendino, the Gathering Place has acted in direct contradiction to the strength and poise shown by those they claim to support. This is cowardice. Not a good example for those facing the fight of their lives.

  167. Michelle McCammon says:

    My brother and mother won their fights against cancer, my uncle and great aunt did not. Is their experiences not as worthy of being remembered as the successes? What your select group who found this exhibit too painful fails to recognize is that art is, at its deepest core, an individual experience – one person might find pain where another finds inspiration to continue the fight. I hope you consider the overwhelmingly negative reaction this decision has generated in your continuing operations.

  168. Janiece McWIlliams says:

    There was a time that cancer was referred to as the ‘C’ word in hushed, forbidden tones. Sadly it seems not much has changed. I am greatly disappointed in The Gathering Place.

  169. Ruth Glassman says:

    Not having seen or known about Mr. Merendino’s exhibit, I was saddened to read each one of the 162 negative E-mails to The Gathering Place regarding their opinions and their decision to omit us from their contributions and the support they have given us in the past.

    It seems to me like the decision to remove the exhibit should have been thought about more intensely rather than what seems to me as a quick decision. We have lost a great deal of respect from many many people. It’s too bad.

  170. crystal says:

    This is shameful

  171. Mary Ann Escamilla says:

    I now that this will not change anything. Your little minds are already made up. Shame is not a word that is sufficient. Hate is not a word that is worthy. Sadness is not sorrowful enough. Cancer as you know is invasive and destructive. If you continue this you are joining its agenda.

  172. Michelle says:

    Wow, when you invited an exceptional photographer to display his collection of photos titled “The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight With Breast Cancer”, what types of images were you expecting? The photos in this collection are the raw, unadulterated truth of battling breast cancer, not every story has a happy ending, this isn’t a fairytale for crying out loud. Shame on you!!

  173. I shake my head and say, Wow! Really?? The face of metastatic breast cancer isn’t the same as those who believe that their stage 0, 1, 2, 3 breast cancer is ‘cured’. It is the face of 30% of those ‘survivors, coupled with those who were unlucky enough to start at stage 4……..and not had a chance to think that there might be a cure for them. It is the face of a warrior.
    It’s an outrage that ‘the face’ …….the beautiful photos, following the steps of a true ‘survivor’ was invited, and then, demanded to be removed.
    So much hard labor put into a body of work, that was done with such pure raw emotional footage, only to be denied of veiwing. Perhaps,…….if there had been more ‘pink’ slathered across the exhibit ………..The exhibit would have been easier on the veiwers.
    Well………the truth in metastatic breast cancer is not at all pink and fluffy. We have enough to deal with and the public’s perception is always blurred, with the idea that……….breast cancer is always curable. The opposite thought is something nobody wants to see or hear…………….even though 30% those, who are ‘cured’ have a recurrence that will kill them at some point.
    BREAST CANCER DOES NOT KILL………..BUT…………METASTATIC BREAST CANCER DOES KILL. The sooner we all……..everybody understands that truth, the more reality will be shed on the face of cancer…………especially, metastatic breast cancer.
    This particular art show…………was a true representation of MBC. It is really awful that the majority of the public would rather not hear, nor see the realities of this insidious disease.
    We need more awareness. Awareness of MBC, and not just breast cancer……….because the face of MBC is considerably different…………..especially without a ‘cure’.

  174. Mary Kay says:

    I am deeply saddened by your decision to remove the photos of Jennifer. Having lost an Aunt and 5 friends to breast cancer, I found Angelo’s phots captured the difficult journey breast cancer patient’s face as they courageously battle this senseless disease. The images touched my heart. God bless you Angelo. You have taught the world so much through your beautiful photography. Fortunately you have thousands of friends who will continue to view Jen’s journey. You don’t need this organization to do that..

  175. Nashelly says:

    This group is a disgrace! I’m outraged by this and can’t wrap my head around the profound ignorance behind the decision to take down the exhibition. There’s nothing pretty about cancer! Shame on the volunteers and survivors for encouraging this disgusting act which is completely selfish! My heart aches for Angelo. You may want to reconsider the core values of your organization. Shame on you!!!!!!

  176. ann says:

    I’m glad these pictures (http://mywifesfightwithbreastcancer.com/) caused reactions in the volunteers and participants. They are beautiful and moving.
    I wish Mr. Merendino’s feelings would have been considered. I’m sure he would have found a tiny bit of solace and closure in this difficult time in his life by having his wife’s battle honored.
    Shameful. You need to make this up to him. And his wife.

  177. Laurie says:

    Through 172 comments, I see only one that agrees with your organization’s decision. How could you view his work, come to a decision to show it, have a “successful” opening, then decide to pull the plug after a few complaints? I feel for Angelo! After enduring the battle that he fought alongside his wife, then putting hours upon hours of preparation into this exhibit…only to have their TRUE story be pulled because some are upset. The irony and hypocrisy of this decision is unbelievable!

  178. TPal says:


  179. Carol says:

    This is so very sad to hear that the reality of cancer has upset people. The story of Jenn and Angelo have inspired so many people that have never even personally known them. It has also inspired me to love my family more and more every day since life is so precious.

    What a bad decision.

  180. Teresa Guilian says:

    I am a chemo and 7 surgery bc survivor, and my mom absolutely loved the Gathering place until she died 4 years ago. Well I still have nasty scars that I have to look at every day and was looking forward to this exhibit!

    I would like to ask where CAN I see the exhibit while I am in town for the next 5 days until I go back to northern California ? I think they will be smart and change their mind very soon.

    And if not, I’ll find a place myself for Angelo. Let me know. Maybe California would be a better, more welcoming place for him? (less quick to judge, more open, i dont know as ive been out of ohio now for 15 years) This is just bs, and hope they change their minds very soon, if they were smart.

    Take care Angelo

  181. […] statement on the center’s website explaining the decision has been met with a barrage of comments […]

  182. ann-margaret says:

    So saddened to hear. Sorry Angelo…..this is just awful.

  183. kati says:

    Shortly after the exhibit was hung some of our volunteers (many of whom are cancer survivors) and our participants found it very difficult and emotionally upsetting to see the exhibition. Because our mission at The Gathering Place is to provide a peaceful, healing and nurturing environment where our participants feel supported and encouraged, we have chosen to remove the exhibit so as to not add to the emotional challenges a cancer journey creates.”

    Your volunteers found it upsetting? Did it ruin their idea that it is an honor to be a part of the commercialized PINK celebration?
    I guess it is much better for other survivors to believe that BC is a short fluffy, pinky time in their lives…….that they go through treatments for a few months and then spend years celebrating over BC…….Pink clothes, pink walks, pink merchandise, etc etc. WOOHOO!!

    As a stage 4 Breast Cancer woman I am deeply sad that knowing that I existed, that I fought this battle, and that I will ultimately lose the fight in the end is so deeply offensive to others.
    I guess it is much better for other survivors to believe that BC is a short fluffy, pinky time in their lives…….that they go through treatments for a few months and then spend years celebrating their triumph over BC. Pink clothes, pink walks, pink boas, pink hats, and all the rest of the pink merchandise, etc etc.
    Well, for over 400,000 of us in this country each year that is not the reality because that is how many of us DIE each and every year in this country alone.
    I am so sorry the about the fact that my existence upsets others. I understand how children love to believe in fairy tales…. but adults should be able to accept ALL that breast cancer means.
    It might be also important to know that even though they think they have triumphed over BC, it is very possible they have not. I was STAGE 1 at original diagnosis. I went over 7 years without a recurrence……. but now I live my live on constant chemo treatments….. thankful for each day I have and knowing I will lose this battle in the end. I am so sad that you feel you must hide my existence from these poor sensitive volunteers who instead wish to live their pink fairy tale.
    I am sorry my existence adds to your emotional challenge.
    The fact that you don’t want to acknowledge that I exist, adds to my emotional challenge.

  184. Julie says:

    Are you all personal friends of Mr. Merendino’s?

    I think he’s done a great job. Wonderful. Amazing. But…..

    People who are walking through the doors of The Gathering Place are living the cancer war. They come to the center as a respite, a haven, a Place which is nurturing. They don’t need to be reminded how “real” it is — believe me, they know.
    The Gathering Place is not a public museum — it has a mission – one that it carries out very well. To me, it’s simple: this wasn’t addressing their mission and clients found the exhibit upsetting in maybe the only place in their world they have come to expect peace. I say good for The Gathering Place to have the guts to remove it and admit their mistake.

    • dee cee says:

      It would go a long way toward appeasing the enormous amount of cancer victims, survivors and their families who DO find Mr Meredino’s work to be enormously valuable, if The Gathering Place planned to in some way compensate Mr Merendino for their painful mistake.

      One wonders what will replace his exhibition. Pink ribbons? A few fish tanks perhaps? The Gathering Place states that their mission is do educate and empower. Mr Merendino’s photographs do exactly that.

    • BeenThere2009 says:

      @Julie, That’s a pretty big stretch to suggest that people posting here are doing so because they know Jennifer or Angelo. It might amaze you to know that most of us ended up commenting here because Angelo’s work has been critically acclaimed. It has been featured on CNN (oops, sorry if that offended anyone) and his blog and FB page has attracted THOUSANDS of followers.

      Are you aware that bloggers in the BC community got wind of this story and it blew up on FB and Twitter? Yup. Didn’t think so.

      No one wishes any ill will towards The Gathering Place, but perhaps the organization would benefit from new management (as several posters served by the organization have suggested). People are angry at the DECISION, and how poorly it was handled. The Gathering Place did themselves no favors by shooting themselves in the foot by issuing a PUBLIC press release.

      So if you want to point fingers, perhaps look at the rocket scientists who (1) lacked better judgement (2) made a poor decision (3) followed up a poor decision with an even worse public statement that enraged many in the BC community.

      Don’t assume just because someone doesn’t state their status that they aren’t a survivor. And please channel your anger towards the people who created this mess.

      This could have been handled much differently and for anyone to accuse Angelo for master-minding a response to this mess needs a course in social media and have their head examined. NO ONE could organize a backlash like this — it’s called karma.

      • Janiece says:

        @ Julie:

        1. Angelo is not responsible for the reactions of others, nor did he galvanize people to behave the way they have. At the same time, people have a first amendment right to free speech. The comments made fall within that right.

        2. While The Gatheing Place has a right to determine what exhibits are displayed in its gallery, it also has a legal obligation to honor its contractual agreements.

  185. SF says:

    How dare you take the photos down? They were “upsetting”? Cancer itself is “upsetting” you god damned fucksticks! DIAF! Or maybe of cancer. Either way.

  186. Paula says:

    “Last week Angelo Merendino hung his photography exhibit The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer in our art gallery at The Gathering Place West.”

    He didn’t just walk in and hang up some pictures. He was invited. Did they just randomly choose a some guy? No, they saw his pics and invited him.

    “Am I a personal friend of Mr. Merendino’s?” No, I wouldn’t know him if I passed him on the street. Are you an idiot? How insulting to say that people have responded to this because we are all friends of his and are rushing to his defense. People respond because they have seen his photos and followed their journey.

    So next time The Gathering Place wants an exhibition, why don’t you just save yourself some time and trouble and just hang a bunch of pink ribbons on the walls. This is a total fail. And a PR nightmare.

  187. Jen's Brother in Law - Chris Webb says:

    As a friend and brother-in law of Jennifer Wise Merendino for the last 24 years, I am sure she is looking down on us with disappointment in what is going on here. The last thing she would want is a smear campaign against a facility that helps people with cancer related illnesses. The Gathering Place admitted that they made a mistake and apologized to Angelo both privately and publicly by supporting his exhibit. Sorry Angelo …..but we need to move on and focus on the positive, like Jennifer always did. Your FB followers don’t need to sit here and write such negative comments about The Gathering Place because they chose to respect the feelings of the people who regularly use their facility and services, and remove the exhibit “My Wife’s Battle with Breast Cancer”. The comments, about a helping organization include:
    “Shame on your company”
    “They are insane”
    “Grow a pair”
    “The Gathering Place is beyond disgusting”
    “Your center is unbelievably disappointing”
    “I am going to see that your funding goes away”
    These are just a few of the comments from your FB followers are writing about a facility that does what..……..
    The Gathering Place Mission Statement
    “The mission of The Gathering Place is to support, educate and empower individuals and families touched by cancer through programs and services provided free of charge.”
    This is my message to Angelo …….do you think Jennifer would approve how this negative campaign will impact The Gathering Place. Please call off your “FANS” as you call them. The ball is in your court and on your conscience. We all know the Gathering Place is an important piece to healing process in the cancer community.
    You are starting a Jennifer Wise Merendino Memorial Fund to help people with cancer who cannot afford basic services such as transportation to treatment. The Gather Place also helps people who cannot afford services; like the JWMMF, they want to help people; you have the same goals. Make Jennifer proud of you and do the right thing.
    Thank You,
    Chris Webb

    • dee cee says:


      People are angry because we wonder what small minority swayed The Gathering Place when such a majority feel that Angelos pictures are so incredibly valuable. In The Gathering Place’s statement that the images were upsetting to some, it feels to us that they want to “pink wash” and ignore the fact that cancer IS an emotional journey as well as a physical one BUT THAT GREAT AND INSPIRING LOVE CAN COME THROUGH AND OF THAT. Since the Gathering Place’s stated mission is to educate and empower – it seems that by this very action they are negating that. One wonders what type of exhibition would replace this? How to document a cancer journey in an educational and accurate way without showing its ugly side?
      That said, it would go a long way if The Gathering Place made a follow up statement as to how it plans to compensate Angelo for the time, money and emotion he put into this project. Financing an independent exhibition space would be one way but there are many options. Right now they are in a precarious position in the community and I think the call to action should be a follow up from them.

      Best wishes and much empathy for the loss of Jen.

    • Janiece says:

      1. Anger is a healthy emotion that needs to be expressed. Suppression of anger ultimately leads to unhealthy manifestations and, in extreme cases, unfortunate evidents such as what occurred this week in Colorado.

      2. Angelo is not responsible for the reactions of others, nor did he galvanize people to behave the way they have. At the same time, people have a first amendment right to free speech. The comments made fall within that right.

      3. While The Gatheing Place has a right to determine what exhibits are displayed in their gallery, they also have a legal obligation to honor their contractual agreements.

  188. Paula says:

    To Chris Webb:

    Wow. I am stunned. You make some good points, but how odd that you choose a public forum to write what should have been a private note to Mr. Merendino. You have just publicly chastised him.

    I did not know his wife, but I wonder if she would ‘approve’ of what you just did.

    • Lori Villanova says:

      Publicly criticizing somebody who gave everything they had to his wife saddens me. He didn’t do anything other than post what happened. This just might make people even more aggressive.

  189. Candi says:

    iAm a breast cancer victor.
    iAm deeply disappointed by your decision to remove this important exhibit!
    ALL Art is created as a result of & for the purpose of moving the human heART!
    iT is ONLY the human heART which can fuel the passion necessary for EFFECTIVE changes in the world!
    iAm sorry, but pretty ‘pink ribbons’ are NOT a true representation of this life-altering/devestating killer.

    iHad to show my sons the 80-something stitches of my deformity before they could understand the TRUTH behind why I couldnt do the things i was always able to do before!
    iHad to bring my husband into the doctor’s office to SEE for himself the removal of the drains-complete with a couple of FEET of tubing being ripped out of my sides before he became more ‘understanding’ of the TRUTH of my new reality!

    iT is NOT the ‘safe’ emotion brought about by pretty ‘pink ribbons’ that will fuel the awareness necessary to find the SOURCE & SOLUTION for this disease!
    iT is the ‘true’ emotion stirred only by the TRUE depiction of the HARSH REALITY of the results of this disease, and all that goes with it, which has the strongest chance of getting ‘effective’ awareness toward change!
    iFeel that if someone ‘can’t handle’ the truth of this important art..then they have freedom of choice not to look at it!
    iDon’t feel that your museum is serving a true heARTfelt purpose if you allow your choice to be so soft & passive that you deny EVERYONE else the chance to experience it, just because of a FEW.

    iSINCERELY hope that you all read all of these posts & reconsider your decision! :-)

  190. Julie says:

    Here’s what I believe. I can only imagine how hard it would be to be asked to remove such a personal exhibit. It would almost feel like “This didn’t happen. Your wife doesn’t matter. We don’t care. We deny that cancer is ugly.” Therefore, I can see how Mr. Merendino could consider the TGP, a place that professes love and support, could cause such an affront to these emotions.
    I get that. I do. I also think cancer victims and their families deserve a respite from the brutality and fear that permeates their lives. I’m sure upon reflection that Mr. Merendino might think of a special place where this was so for Gina, or wish that such a place existed. If he or his supporters could allow his emotions to go to that place, he might be able to understand.

    • Paula says:

      Jen. Not Gina. Jen.

      You said it on FB. You said it here. However, it remains that TGP really instigated this therefore, they get the fallout, as it did with Komen. Clearly their (re)actions touched a raw nerve in the BC community. That in itself is worth noting.

      And I’m pretty sure Mr. Merendino has done quite a bit of reflecting. I hope your note is sincere because it sounds very condescending.

  191. Angelo Merendino says:

    With respect to the recent decision made by The Gathering Place to discontinue my photo exhibition, I’d like to issue the following statement:

    Throughout Jen’s devastating diagnosis, we were fortunate to find organizations that embraced and supported us, much like The Gathering Place serves such needs in the greater Cleveland community. To say that I was thrilled when the organization reached out to me and extended an invitation to exhibit my work would be an understatement. I was ecstatic to take this important work to the next level and I eagerly submitted images for approval, which I received. As such, the nature and content of the exhibit should not have taken anyone off guard.

    While I can appreciate there are people who may find some of the images overwhelming and difficult to look at, I only wish that the feelings of the clientele served by The Gathering Place had been taken into consideration before I was given approval to install the exhibition. Based on the stated mission of the organization, perhaps this was not an appropriate venue to properly showcase my work.

    That said, it would be disappointing if the fallout from this decision resulted in negatively impacting the support of present and future donors of The Gathering Place.

    To everyone who has reached out to me privately and publicly to express their dismay with the decision of The Gathering Place to remove my exhibition, I see an opportunity to channel your collective enthusiasm and energy into something positive and I ask for your help in finding a new home for these photographs that have touched so many. I strongly believe this is the best way to honor Jen’s legacy and provide a voice for those affected by metastatic breast cancer. I am grateful for your help and humbled by your continued love and support.

    ~ Angelo Merendino, creator, “The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight With Breast Cancer”

    • Laura Webb says:

      Thank you Angelo.

      • MaryAnn Merendino says:

        No need to thank Angelo, he continues to act in the way that made Jen fall in love with him in the first place. I remember the Hospice nurse telling me that Angelo’s focus on Jen’s comfort was magnificent and rare. I remember seeing the love in Jen’s eyes when she looked at Angelo. Angelo continues to share his respect for the mission of The Gathering Place, and is not orchestrating the responses. To those of you who find a false power in attacking my brother, please stop. He is raw from the pain of losing his wife. Support him or leave him alone.

  192. You are dismissing the one true exhibiy that showcased not only the pain that is cancer, but the beauty that is the fight.

    Jen was a fighter and you have in essence diminished her memory to honor that of a few sore patrons.

    A shame on your organization for sweeping the memory of a courageous woman off the walls…

  193. URcoinoperated says:

    Shame on you, The Gathering Place. It looks like you are afraid this exhibit will hurt you bottom line. This is an extremely important work and you have disrespected this family and every other family who have fought cancer. Donors should demand that you put the exhibition back up and apologize to the family. Shame on you for putting money first!

  194. Sharon Kozen says:

    Sigh… excluded again. I am fighting a rare cancer. I do not have support groups, lunches with patients or surviviors. Neither one of the the 2 hopitals I have worked at over the last 25 years treats it. I am in the shadows as other employees celebrate their cancer battles. One thing I do have are Mr Meredeno’s photos, I connect with them and was excited to find a place somewhere that I could also connect with. Touched by cancer? You don’t even know. What a bitter and painful experience with you institution.

  195. Jen says:

    The Gathering Place is a wonderful organization who touches peoples lives in profound and meaningful ways. While I do not support their decision to take down Angelo’s work I do support their mission. Angelo’s work is raw, real, honest, powerful and important. His photographs are the guts of this battle. Jennifer’s light continues to shine through his work. His photographs validate the experience of both the person fighting cancer AND the caregiver. Such an important gift. The intense dialogue that has come from the decision to pull the exhibit can be used to build a bridge of understanding, teachable moments and growth opportunities. Let the communication be productive not hateful.

  196. Ichhab Krebs says:

    Has this so-called charity never heard of the Streisand Effect? Any non-profit run in so incompetent a manner raises too many suspicions for me and should for any other group to donate to with a clear conscience.

  197. Julie says:

    Paula, I apologize for my error in calling Jen “Gina.” I can only imagine how hurtful that would feel if you knew her well — as I have also lost young family members to this terrible disease. As well as old. I am also sorry you found my tone condescending. I didn’t mean it as such.

    The Gathering Place admitted they made an awful mistake. People and organizations do just that. In my mind, it is how they/people handle the aftermath that matters. Stepping up to the plate and admitting it right away is a good start.

    “Fallout” is a strong word chosen by you. I would hope that would not include diminishing the services that have served well many a survivor and family.

    There are good, wonderful yet imperfect people at TGP, just like all of us. I would hope in Jen’s memory that this event doesn’t cause others to be affected negatively by TGP’s admitted mistake.

    People are absolutely free to disagree that this was a “mistake.” But I would hope their resultant actions won’t affect future innocent people who are helped by TGP. When all is said and done, it truly is a great organization. And may it serve many more in the future as it learns from this unfortunate incident.

  198. Kay says:

    I’ve been sitting on this and thinking about it overnight. I didn’t want to just post my disbelief that such a moving and insightful exhibit would be removed after Angelo had expended all of his time and energy to present to you.

    What I am shocked over is that you would minimize the pain and hurt that Angelo and his wife have gone through. I can’t speak for him, but as a bystander I am shocked that an organization that claims support and caring for ones that are “Touched by Cancer” would deem his pain to hurtful to bear. This is his pain. By turning your back on the exhibit, you are turning your back on a person that you would claim to support in their hour of need.

    Instead of removing the exhibit, perhaps there should have been a disclaimer stating that some pictures are sensitive in nature. But then again, is Cancer sensitive in nature?

    While I understand that some may not want to see the hurtful pain that cancer can ravage on a family, hiding our heads won’t make it go away. In truth, I see his exhibit as one of love and hope. Jen and Angelo’s story is reaching millions of people and only goes to show that love transcends all things, even Cancer.

  199. Peggy says:

    I am a volunteer at The Gathering Place, as well as a breast cancer survivor.

    I can certainly appreciate the power of Angelo’s exhibit and the emotional journey he, his wife and family went through. Cancer is not for the faint of heart.

    This being said, The Gathering Place is a place of HOPE for those currently on their own journey, and I know that because our staff always puts our participants first and foremost, they only had their best interest in mind when deciding to remove the exhibit. If the exhibit made some feel afraid, uncomfortable or less hopeful, and we didn’t acknowledge that, then we are not living up to our mission statement.

    This has been an unfortunate event for both parties involved, however, The Gathering Place has apologized publicly and privately. Sometimes these things happen.

    But let’s not forget that both Angelo Merendeno and The Gathering Place ultimately have the same goal in mind: to help make people aware that people going through cancer need love, support and understanding to provide hope for their journey.

    • Janiece says:

      Lets also remember that while The Gatheing Place has a right to determine what exhibits are displayed in their gallery, they also have a legal obligation to honor their contractual agreements.

  200. Metasta-Sister says:

    This is a lot more than friends and facebook followers of the artist. It has touched a very raw nerve in the metastatic breast cancer community across country and across the world. We are tired of being squelched and hidden because some people are afraid of us. We cringe the entire month of Pinktober.

    Yes, you have pissed off the wrong people. Knowing we probably don’t have much more time to live makes us have to live that time that much more intensely. We are intensely angry at what you have done, and you are hearing from a lot of us, from all over the world, who had never heard of Angelo Merendino before, but are glad we did.

    Now, when are we going to hear from you, Ms. Kristina Austin? How are you going to compensate Mr. Merendino for his time and effort? Have you done anything to arrange for his work to be presented in some other, nearby venue? I don’t think anyone really wants to shut you down — that’s just anger talking. But we don’t think you have done enough yet on this issue, and we are not going away.
    (yeah, you’ll outlive most of us, but we’ll sic our heirs on you!)

  201. Gail says:

    I equally am saddened and appalled at this decision to remove Angelo’s work. His photos are a reflection of love and hope. Jen’s legacy is one of sharing and inspiration – how sad that the Gathering Place couldn’t see that.

  202. BeenThere2009 says:

    To all that have suggested that anyone posting here is doing so because they are a friend or follower of Angelo, please take your collective heads out of your pants. It might amaze you to know that most of us ended up commenting here because Angelo’s work has been critically acclaimed. It has been featured on CNN (oops, sorry if that offended anyone) and his blog and FB page has attracted THOUSANDS of followers during the last year and a half of Jennifer’s life.

    Are you aware that bloggers in the BC community got wind of this story and it blew up on FB and Twitter? Yup. Didn’t think so.

    As someone else pointed out, metastatic breast cancer is the disease that no one wants to see and what voice it has is often silenced – not unlike the decision to remove Angelo’s exhibit.

    I’m a survivor (Stage 1) and I live in constant fear that my disease will return but that is not something that is ever spoken about. Are the images difficult to look at? Sure. Could there have been a more appropriate venue to showcase them? Obviously so. But don’t forget for a moment that The Gathering Place INVITED Angelo to display his work. He has done nothing wrong nor has he asked anyone to come to his defense. Like me, people are simply outraged.

    No one wishes any ill will towards The Gathering Place, but perhaps the organization would benefit from new management (as several posters served by the organization have suggested). People are angry at the DECISION, and how poorly it was handled. The Gathering Place did themselves no favors by shooting themselves in the foot by issuing a PUBLIC press release.

    So if you want to point fingers, perhaps look at the rocket scientists who (1) lacked better judgement (2) made a poor decision (3) followed up a poor decision with an even worse public statement that enraged many in the BC community. We’re a tough lot — we beat cancer, after all. Don’t mess with us! ; )

    And please don’t assume just because someone doesn’t state their status that they aren’t a survivor. And you might want to channel your anger towards the people who created this mess instead of blaming an innocent party who only accepted an invitation.

    This could have been handled much differently and to be honest, The Gathering Place would get a lot of points if they reimbursed Angelo for his time and effort and perhaps even found a new space for his exhibit some where. Offer an olive branch. His statement certainly did. (And for the record, was much more gracious than this organization deserved!)

    For anyone to accuse Angelo for master-minding a response to this mess needs a crash course in social media and have their head examined. NO ONE could organize a backlash like this — it’s called karma and she’s a bitch!

  203. Christi says:

    I am shocked that an exhibit like this would be taken down especially under these circumstances!!! Angelo’s art was amazing and a very real journey into cancer. I have stage 4 breast cancer and I can tell you that breast cancer is not the disease than many think it is, wrapped up in a pretty pink ribbon. If all the people who think it is nice and neatly tied up with that overpriced pink ribbon really knew that most (97%) of their pink money is going to make women and men aware and less than 3% of their donations is going to actually find a cure and treat stage 4 which is the stage that kills you….that is what she died of…You owe this man a deep apology and if more people actually had gotten to see the exhibit , they matt have left with less warm fuzzy feelings about cancer, but more truth and education as to what living and dying with cancer is REALLY about!!!! Huge injustice!!!

  204. Dear Ms. Saffran and the Board of Directors:

    You have absolutely done the wrong thing to remove this important exhibit. Breast cancer can not, and should not be sanitized in order to make people more comfortable with it. We SHOULD be scared, outraged, and horrified by the real images of what happens.

    Not only are you doing your clientele a disservice, but you have slapped the face of women and their families suffering from this disease to not be honest about it. The fear and shame and isolation that they feel is now further exacerbated by your thoughtless action.

    Apparently, you would rather slap a pink ribbon and a teddy bear on it and pretend.

    There is also a fundamental misconception here about the purpose of art. Art SHOULD produce strong emotions, and can be very cathartic. You should be HAPPY that people were responding strongly to the exhibit and left it up so that more people could see it.

    Please remove my name immediately from your mailing list. I want nothing more to do with you … unless you immediately restore this exhibit to its proper place.

    I seriously think that whomever made this misguided decision should immediately resign and go into a field where they won’t encounter strong feelings. To base a decision on a few volunteers reaction is very short-sighted. And to make artistic decisions by committee is ludicrous.

    Meg Patterson
    Stage IV Breast Cancer Survivor
    Astoria, Oregon
    (I have visited your center because my mother lives in Lakewood, OH)

  205. Melissa harris says:

    have to say, I read the story in the PD today about the Gathering Place “fiasco” regarding Angelo’s photo exhibit. I think the leadership at the Gathering place should be brought to task. To NOT take into consideration (from the VERY start) the emotional and financial investment of the artist AND the fallout from patients is tragic. The management at The Gathering Place owes this artist a venue… at the very least.

  206. Lisa Frenchy Smith says:

    Dear Ms. Kristina Austin,
    I look at the incredibly powerful photographs of Jen Merendino.
    This is what I look like.
    I think I am beautiful.
    Are you telling me that I don’t deserve to be looked at?
    That I offend you?
    I am hundreds of thousands strong across the globe.
    I have sisters in Australia, Dubai, United Kingdom, Singapore just to name a few.
    We are all beautiful. We are incredibly strong.
    Thank you Angelo for showing our faces through your beloved Jen.
    Ms. Austin, where is your voice? Where is an “appropriate” venue for this body of work? I think you need to publicly apologize to all us who look like Jen and think that that’s normal, and beautiful,and real.
    Then I think you need to find another line of work.

    • Matt says:

      Lisa, why are you seem so personally offended by this? TGP’s original decision to allow the gallery was the wrong one. They made a mistake and are now fixing the mistake. The place for Angelo’s photos is in an art gallery someplace. You may find the art beautiful, but you have to understand that TGP has learned, from the comments it received from its clients, that the gallery was counterproductive to TGP’s mission, and for that reason had to be taken down. It’s nothing personal against Angelo, Jen, you or anyone else who’s going through a similar experience.

      • Courtney says:

        Matt, what I don’t think you’re realizing is a great deal of these women who are in your words “personally offended” by this feel that way because many of them are suffering from the exact disease that took Jen’s life and feel that through this work they were given a voice as well. From my understanding TGP’s mission is to provide comfort to cancer patients at all levels of illness and for many in the final stages this exhibit did just that. It’s not a matter of the photos needing to be in an art gallery, TGP was the perfect place for them where so many people who are battling for their lives can see that even though cancer is not pretty the ugliness can still be beautiful and reminds them that they’re not alone. As many have said cancer is very rarely depicted in it’s true form, which is not pretty, it’s ugly and mean and I can understand how some people may feel uncomfortable with that but it’s the truth. Cancer isn’t sunshine and lollipops, it kills and for women and men such Lisa, whom based on her comment I’m assuming is battling cancer right now, it’s nice to see you’re not alone and I understand why she’s offended TGP’s actions. I’m sure in her everyday life she feels that she needs to hide and not show the world what’s really happening and now TGP has just confirmed that fact by taking down a beautiful exhibit that shows exactly what these women are truly going through. So shame on you for belittling her and telling her how she should feel because to Lisa and many like her, despite how you feel they should feel, it is personal.

  207. Donna Peach says:

    I am constantly dismayed by the very people who are supposed to be helping the world to understand what life with cancer, and particularly, stage IV cancer, is really like. Angelo Merendino did this in a most beautiful and moving way. His story through photography tells us what it is like to love and to lose someone who meant the world to him. Life with breast cancer is not pink. It is not pretty. It is not sexy. It is raw and it is emotional. It is full of moments of gripping fear and reactions from others that tell us we should hide.

    Here is a support group that is yet again telling us with stage IV cancer that we make the world too uncomfortable to view and that we should hide away. You call yourselves a support group? I think you need to redefine your goal since you have failed in this mission. I have metastatic breast cancer and live what Jennifer lived and died from. What I feel from viewing Merendino’s photos is the love and commitment he shared with his wife; his exhibit moved me to feel many emotions, and this is what real art does. Yet his achievement scorned those senseless and insensitive members of your staff whose opinions should have caused retraining about what supporting members of the breast cancer community really means. If they don’t get it, fire them all. I just blogged about the lack of sensitivity of volunteers like this who simply don’t get it. The idea is to become more aware, not to stifle it. I am sorry to say this is sickening.

  208. Sandy Scott says:

    I firmly support TGP’s position on removing the photo exhibit. While this is a beautifully done work and very much expresses the cancer journey, not all people with cancer are ready for such stark reality. I am a survivor, having had cancer in both breasts and my uterus. I was diagnosed earlier this year with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, so, I am not only a volunteer with TGP, but a participant.

    My responsibilities in working the Front Desk and health fairs are to be sensitive to where people are when I come in contact with them in either capacity. Those of us who cover these two areas see many levels of acceptance of their (or their family members) disease and have to reach out to them without adding to any fear and anxiety they are already experiencing. Being a three-timer, I have a different comfort level and yet I was very moved by what I saw in the photo’s. The first thing I did was say,”WHOA” and then gulp. After that, my thoughts turned to the first-timers, the newly diagnosed participants, and their family members who would see them and how they would react. They couldn’t avoid seeing them as they had to pass between the pictures to reach their session rooms. I can see how they would be frightened by them and wonder if that could become them or their loved one.

    While I believe the photographs should be seen, perhaps in a room, as a less obvious place. I believe that the staff of TGP nade the right choice in being sensitive to ALL it’s participants based on their level of comfort with their illness.

    I know where the staff of TGP is coming from. They ARE a caring and cencerned group of people. What I have trouble handling is the totally negative comments made by the people on this website and cleveland.com who have had absolutely no contact with the centers and have not seen the actual photo’s or have no knowledge of all that is being done to be a support for it’s participants. These negative individuals are reacting rather than checking for the truth. I challenge all those who were negative in their comments to come and walk through our centers and see for themselves what we are about (we are open 9-8pm for a tour and learn of the services provided). Then you can make an informed comment based on facts, not feelings or assumptions. Then if you want to be open minded, you will see that we are about more than photographs. Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Janiece says:

      That this exhibit stirred emotions resulting in the current controversy is a testament to Angleo’s talent as a critically acclaimed artist. Valid points have been made on both sides of this debate.   The comments that you view as negative are healthy expressions of feelings by commentators who, like you, have a right to vent.  This is known as one’s first amendement right to free speech. In the meantime, there is still the breach of contract issue that needs to be addressed.

    • Matt says:

      Well-said, Sandy. It must have been a tough choice for TGP to make, but it was the right one. There’s a place for Angelo’s art, but the right place is definitely not TGP.

  209. Jill Young says:

    This has really caused a storm and my first reaction was one of shock and distress. I felt so sad for Angelo Merendino, I am sure it must have been like experiencing his wife’s death for a second time. I have hesitated to comment because I didn’t want it coming from a gut reaction. It has been a dreadful experience for everyone concerned including those people involved with The Gathering Place. As they said in their statement they have learned from this and I am sure that many people have been, and will continue to be, helped by them.
    It did make me wonder though when did death become such a taboo subject. We all face death, that is a 100% statistic it is a question of when and how? I had to consider the possibility when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2009 and after having a conversation with God (I am a Christian) I came to a point where I was ready to trust Him to sustain me whatever the outcome.
    I think the hope we must offer cancer sufferers, or indeed anyone with a serious illness, is hope in the face of death not just the hope of avoiding it, for that is an impossibility. To see someone like Jen travel that road with such courage and grace surely must touch many people.
    I have always had a very positive approach to my illness and from the start wanted to talk about it openly in an attempt to help people overcome their fear of cancer. I know there were many times when I have probably shocked people and I also realise that some people would much prefer to keep their head stuck in the sand, and that is their choice, everyone deals with things in different ways.
    I know very little about The Gathering Place, in fact I only came across Angelo’s Facebook page very recently so it is difficult to give an informed opinion but, to all the people involved, I want to acknowledge that this must also be a very very difficult time for you. I hope and pray that this does not deter you from the work that you are doing, that you can recover from this and move forward, stronger and wiser.

  210. Deborah says:

    to not respect the courage Angelo and Jennifer had to take the photos to deal with the harsh realities of cancer is very sad position for the Gathering place to take. i was a good friend of Jen’s and i respect her and Angelo for documenting the journey and the courage it takes to face a foe named cancer

  211. Ang says:

    Was this exhibit at the front door? Did it force all to look? I understand that it’s a sensitive subject but it’s real.

  212. potra says:

    I am so insulted and hurt to be once again negated, forgotten. What is wrong with people who can’t accept reality? We, Stage IV patients, are way in the thousands!Why can’t death be discussed? The crude awakening to the fact that bc isn’t always curable is like a slap in the face-I thought I’d be good, accept the chemo, be stoic and move on with my life…whoops.
    The exhibition is beautiful for ANY setting AND a necessary one for all bc patients.
    I appreciate the work the Gathering Place does BUT this is a golden opportunity to recognize our existence.
    Are we getting in somebody’s face?

  213. Matt says:

    Gathering place, you made the right choice. Yours is a mission of hope. The artist’s photographs, while touching, were frankly more depressing than anything else. Your decision to create a committee to review art is the right one.

  214. Michal says:

    Death is depressing? Well be depressed! Because we are all going to die. This man was expressing his love and gave a tribute to his deceased wife. She died from stage IV cancer….. and sad news people…. 1/3 of all breast cancer ‘survivors’ will soon join her. A sad but realistic fact, and the honest to God truth.

  215. Marc Go,ub says:

    I’ve waited to chime in here.  My award winning show “Cancer Speaks” back in 2007 also evoked much emotional response. It made people cry. It was not taken down. In fact, it when on to become a permanent exhibit at UH Seidman Cancer Hospital. http://photogmarc.com/id46.html. 

    I am in full support of fellow photographer Angelo Merendino and the show about his wife Jennifer titled “The Battle We Didn’t Choose.”

    The Gathering Place has made a grievous error in judgement, is now in the throws of a negative PR storm and needs to make amends to Mr. Merendino and to the community.  I suggest, rehanging the exhibit at The Gathering Place Beachwood facility as soon as possible. 

  216. Elle S. says:

    Please alert the Smithsonian that their Holocaust exhibit is disturbing and should be removed. And while you’re at it, you might get rid of the Vietnam Moving Wall Memorial too….it upsets me to see my friend’s names on there.
    Get real, people. Admit that you responded with a knee-jerk reaction, make your apologies to breast cancer victims everywhere (and, yes, I am one)and re-hang the exhibit.
    Shame on you!

  217. John says:

    For what it’s worth, Gathering Place, I believe you made the right decision. I can not imagine losing a spouse, and I hope the photos were somehow therapeutic for the family. But I have also seen cancer’s dreadful effects up-close, and I don’t believe the folks still in the fight for their lives should have such images thrown in front of them like some sort of omen. Patients have a tough enough battle as it is, they don’t need to be reminded of the worst-case scenario.

  218. Molly says:

    I found out about this from a wonderful Advanced Breast Cancer online support group. I just don’t get the reaction of the Gathering Place; of all organizations, a cancer support group should know better. I understand the exhibit was difficult to see, but by ripping down this photographic journey, you have fed into all the knee-jerk, unrealistic and emotionally disconnected attitudes about cancer, and reinforced them. This could have been a tremendous learning experience for those volunteers and “survivors.” By not sharing and working through the emotional reactions to this exhibit you missed a critical opportunity to help all those with cancer and their loved ones that this IS the stark reality of breast cancer. But while starting to take in the fear and despair these pictures elicit, you deprived those same people the opportunity to work through and connect with the grace and courage and yes, HOPE that was part of Jenn and her husband. I have gotten such HOPE and COURAGE from knowing something about the lives of women with Stage IV breast cancer and I am sorry you have denied that powerful experience from those who were upset by the exhibit.

  219. Michele says:

    The Gathering Place: You should be ashamed of yourselves! Why is it that this society feels the need to protect the feelings of a few complainers, over bringing awareness and support to the many, many others who have lived in the world of cancer. Please tell those few to close their eyes and not look at the exhibit – but don’t keep the rest of us from seeing such a beautiful expression of love, compassion, and the pain of losing someone to such a deadly disease. Stand up for what you know you should believe in, and re-hang the exhibit.

  220. Steve D says:

    The Gathering Place’s response is deeply unfortunate. If any good comes of it, perhaps it will be the stream of comments here and the conversations it engenders elsewhere.

  221. Helen Eyers says:

    Life is upsetting but LIFE IS ART! The messages in these photographs are so much bigger than a few hurt feelings. Please see the big picture and bring back the exhibit.

  222. Rose says:

    I can appreciate that a newly diagnosed stage I patient who is frightened and needs to believe that she won’t end up at stage IV might not want to view the photos. HOWEVER, I wish TGP could appreciate the comfort that the photos can and have provided to stage IV patients. Jen’s journey is our journey, and it is a lonely one. Lonely not because we don’t have family and friends who love us, but lonely because only another stage IV patient can really understand what we are going through. While I do not know Angelo, and I never knew Jen, I find comfort in the photos of their journey.

    While the photos can (and I believe will) be displayed in a gallery, TGP should have provided an appropriate space, at their center, to display the photos. By doing so, they would have provided support for stage IV patients, whether those patients felt comfortable viewing the photos or not.

  223. Thomas says:

    Unlike many of the people making comments on this subject, I have been a regular participant and supporter of The Gathering Place and I fully support the decision by TGP to remove the Merendino photographs from the corridor in the Westlake facility.
    My wife and I attended the Friday “The Battle We Didn’t Choose” exhibition at TGP West and were both very impressed with the content and presentation. I was happy to see the number of attendees and to be able to make a modest monetary donation to the family.
    On the following Monday evening, I was more than a little shocked to see the photographic artwork still on display. I had assumed it was a one day display / event. I think TGP as a venue for Friday evening’s exhibition was appropriate but do not feel the same about it being the proper location for a longer term display. TGP is not a photo or art gallery. The graphic nature of the photo essay didn’t bother me as it may have affected some. During my life, I’ve seen more than my share of death and suffering from first hand and up close vantage points. My concern was with the negative message that was being sent to TGP participants and visitors.
    I have seen dozens of newly diagnosed cancer survivors and their caregivers come to TGP support group meetings that are so shaken and scared they can’t bring themselves to even utter the word “Cancer.” These courageous survivors and supporters need to know that there is help and hope since most already have death on their minds. I’m not advocating a pink ribbon or teddy bear environment but strongly feel that having to navigate a gauntlet of “death by cancer” photos in the corridor outside the support group meeting rooms is sending an inappropriate message.
    What’s next? It seems like some people making comments would be satisfied with hanging photos of autopsies too. Other comments seem to be more concerned with a contract or Mr. Merendino’s and his family’s hurt feelings or even monetary remuneration to Mr. Merendino. I think the issue should be less about Mr. Merendino and more about the real issue. The Gathering Place was not and is not the proper venue for this particular photo essay.
    For the record, I am one of the participants that expressed my unsolicited opinion and concerns to TGP on the Tuesday morning following the Friday opening. I do not consider myself immortal. In fact, I know I’m terminal. I am not a large donor to TGP nor am I a wimp. I am painfully aware of death being a part of life and realize that my own may be in the not too distant future. I stand by my opinion and agree with most that this exhibit is powerful and moving. I also am of the opinion that it should be displayed in some other venue. I continue to support TGP and their decision to remove the photo essay.

    • Janiece says:

      TGP extended a contractual offer to Mr. Merendino.  After Mr. Merendino accepted and in good faith performed his obligations pursuant to that offer, TGP renieged on the offer.  That TGP is a valuable resource in the community is not a justification or an excuse for breach of contract.  That commentators have exercised their constitutional right to free speech is not a justification or an excuse for TGP to ignore its legal responsibility to make Mr. Merendino whole.  That another gallery will house Mr. Merendino’s exhibit for a shorter run than originally planned, merely  mitigates the damage caused by TGP.  Mitigation, however, does not absolve TGP from its legal obligation to make Mr. Merendino whole.

      • Thomas says:

        Contracts are broken every minute of every day. I haven’y been privy to the one between TGP and Mr. M. That’s for lawyers (I assume you are one) to work out.

  224. artist says:

    I can’t speak for TGP or the cancer community. I think this dialogue about cancer is highly educational. I am so impressed by the depth of compassion from all sides of this discussion. I agree with Janiece.

    Whether the venue is appropriate or not is secondary to how the termination of the exhibit was handled.

    This forum is not just about how cancer patients feel about the exhibit; it’s also about how we treat artists. We don’t do this to each other in the business community. You don’t ask a contractor to tile your kitchen and then not pay him because your wife hates it.

    1. You consult before the decision. or
    2. Consullt and reach a compromise. or
    3. Pay the guy and start over.

  225. Elle S. says:

    Dear Thomas,
    Isn’t it a lovely country we live in where we can voice our opinion? I think so. I listened to yours and you’re entitled to it, but I have a few issues.
    First, I can’t imagine why TGP would offer the space in the first place, even for one day, if it is not in line with their purpose or if it was obviously going to upset, as you say, the very people they are trying to comfort. I’m not questioning that this is a good place with a worthwhile purpose. What is being questioned is why they would make this agreement and then cave under pressure. Did the person or persons making executive decisions not understand the impact these photos might have on the newly diagnosed and their families? Or was this exhibit agreed to sight unseen?
    Didn’t think so.
    Secondly, it is an insult to use arguments such as the one you used…
    “During my life, I’ve seen more than my share of death and suffering from first hand and up close vantage points.”
    That’s akin to saying you understand the horrors experienced by slaves because you know African Americans.
    And third..unless you’ve just recently been told by a physician that you are terminal, please don’t use that flippantly. Too many times people who are not victims of a terminal illness say “well, chin up..none of us know when we’re going to die…I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.” Unless you go to bed every night and wake up every morning thinking about that bus, you have no idea what it’s like to be “terminal”.
    These photographs show that Ms. Merendino did not give up…she fought…and she fought hard. You can talk about it, you can write about it, but pictures are the images that speak volumes.
    I agree with you that TGP is not the right venue. I just wish they would have thought of that sooner.

    • Janiece says:

      @ Elle S.:
      To answer your question, the exhibit was not agreed to sight unseen. The TGP approved the photos in advance.

    • Thomas says:

      To address your issues,
      1. I wasn’t involved with the decisions to have or to remove the photos so I won’t speak to that. I do think TGP has addressed this in their explanation and apology.
      2. So sorry to insult you. If you only knew me and where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. Black and white pictures are nothing like the real world and certainly don’t upset me.
      3. Quite an assumption that I don’t know my cancer or the meaning of the word terminal. I too have been on a journey, as have all other cancer patients.

      At least we agree that TGP is not the proper venue for the photos.

  226. Elle S. says:

    This is my last post on this particular subject on this page. I am truly a peaceful person, but passionate about many things.
    Your own words in the previous post negate everything you’re addressing in the post above.
    You’ve missed the point. I’m not surprised. If nothing else, though, as someone pointed out earlier, this has opened up many a discussion. That’s a good thing.

    I am a cancer patient, Thomas. I won’t be vague about it and obscure the seriousness of it by saying I’m not immortal. I believe history has proven that none of us are immortal. It is what it is, Thomas. Cancer. Cancer is ugly. Cancer will kill me. The exhibit captured that reality. Certainly, as you pointed out, you already knew the reality, but felt others needed protected from it.
    My hope is that people will start to demand a cure. More research, less fluff. We need to figure out how to save the Jens of the world from this awful disease.

    Since you’re a regular supporter of TGP (your words, not mine) then I suggest they run things past you before they agree to any further exhibits. If you are a cancer patient also, then your view would carry even more weight.
    TGP and the way they handled this exhibit are the controversial ones here. Not us. Let’s not lose sight of that.

    You, and people like you, seem to be influential in the decision making there at TGP.

    But you knew that.

    just sayin’.

  227. Jen's Sister - Laura Webb says:

    I just wanted to tell/remind everyone that in addition to the photo exhibit, Jennifer’s story, in her own words, can be found on both her YouTube video and on her blog, as she chronicled her journey. She shares her thoughts, fears and love.

    YouTube: “The Day I found Out Jennifer Merendino”

    and her blog – “My Life with Breast Cancer” found at http://www.mylifewithbreastcancer.wordpress.com

  228. Anne E Bishop says:

    Your CHOICE – yes, your CHOICE, to NOT show these photos and this exhibit shows that you do not really understand the breast cancer world.

    To CHOOSE to not see the whole picture shows your limits as an organization, which is a disservice to the very individuals you purport to help.

    YOU had the opportunity here to be a LEADER, and you CHOOSE not to be.

    How very disappointing.

  229. BlondeAmbition says:

    While TGP has indeed apologized profusely, there is a big difference between making an apology and being accountable for one’s actions. These circumstances were extreme and the situation was of their own making and as such, TGP had a moral obligation to find a new home for the exhibit. Knowing what I do about crisis management, I assure you, that would have gone a LONG WAY with anyone who was upset with the decision to remove the exhibit. Few people would argue that perhaps TGP (or any other cancer support or treatment center) is not an appropriate venue for this exhibit — however, Mr. Merendino was extended an invitation to do display his work there and TGP pre-approved the images. At very least, TGP should be compensating Mr. Merendino for the costs of expediting his exhibit for their event — especially since they benefited from the advance publicity of hosting it.

    TGP handled this poorly from start to finish and an ‘apology’ and even ‘multiple apologies’ don’t do justice to the situation that evolved. Perhaps the Board of Directors needs to reconsider the qualifications of everyone who was involved in the flawed decision making process that led to this mess. To not have the foresight to know how distressing such images would be to the cancer community they serve is beyond unacceptable.

    Finally, I respect those who don’t wish to view such stark and powerful images, however, no one is forcing anyone to see them and sensitivities should not prohibit the exhibit being made accessible for people who do wish to see them.

  230. AmySTL says:

    I think your committee will be living in denial if they don’t realize that they can go from being a “survivor”
    to a metastatic breast cancer patient. It does come back
    to a percentage of women. Are they only going to choose
    fairy tale photos of butterflies and dancing children?
    Reality is not always happy subject matter- tell your volunteers to get REAL.

  231. Molly says:

    I think Anne made an excellent point. This series of failures on the part of the Gathering Place, while probably well intentioned, is a glaring example of the lack of real understanding of the gamut of support and education any cancer group should offer anyone walking through the door.
    This series of mistakes, very poor decisions, made after the initial invitation (a great choice) could have been made by any rookie on the street — someone with no training or insight or understanding of all the parts of having cancer. It showed an appalling lack of the one beautiful gift of support a center can offer. Not a sanitized, prettied up, one-size-fits-all platitudes about getting rid of cancer, and being on your way. That does a disservice to anyone with cancer, Stage I or IV, terrified or studiously positive.
    Those operating a support center MUST understand (and trained until they do) that each person finds their own way, and needs help and support through each phase of what they are feeling. That could mean helping someone who is fearfully avoiding anything other than cheerleading cliches work through the fears that they ARE feeling and just aren’t letting surface. An experienced compassionate person at a center understands that education and awareness, while scary at first, leads to acceptance and courage, and that hope and strength can only be long lasting if all the fears and avoidance are worked through. The Center sent a message by their actions — We Might Be VERY UNCOMFORTABLE if you come in here, bald, pale, tubed up, sobbing, sickly, scared,angry, wanting to talk about death, wanting to talk about grieving, nauseous, alone, wanting to scream or cry or curl up in a ball. No matter what “Stage” a client is, she or he could be all or one of those.
    I hope that the Gathering Place will continue and even flourish, but immediately make a formal commitment to bring in a trained clinical psychologist, oncologist social worker or whomever, to help them realize how lacking / one-sided some of their support and counseling has been.

  232. […] photography exhibit created controversy.  Gathering Place Executive Director Eileen Saffran explains why the photos were taken […]

  233. Susan says:

    I don’t understand how The Gathering Place would invite Angelo to place his exquisite exhibit of photos showing his journey with his beautiful wife Jen as she went through treatment and ultimately died from breast cancer.
    In your description on your site you say, “There is no ‘right’ way to experience or cope with cancer – everyone is different. What works for you might not work for someone else. Try to honor whatever emotion you are feeling – anger, fear, sadness, anxiety and depression may all be part of your journey. Many of our programs are aimed at helping you cope with the emotions and learn new coping strategies.”
    By taking Angelo’s exhibit down you go against what you claim to be about. By your actions it’s clear that your organization seems to have no understanding of what having cancer is really about.

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  237. Anonymous says:

    How could you? I think that this was Angelo’s way of dealing with his grief. Of course these pictures are heartbreaking. But they are powerful, and show what cancer really is. It’s not pink ribbons, and walks to raise money, and it’s not even well written books by John Greene. Not even that is accurate enough to show what cancer really is. It’s a horrible,horrible disease. I am heartsick for Angelo. For the 3 years they were married, only 5 months were completely happy. 5 months they didn’t have to deal with her cancer. 5 months out 36. And he can do that, but they had to take down an exhibit that he worked so hard on because it was upsetting. He is sad, of course, but that’s an understatement. I don’t have a word for how terrible that is. But an upsetting exhibit? Really? Sick, is what that is.

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