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At the age of 16 Patrick Richardson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. At the time it was widely considered a death sentence with no chance of a normal life. Growing up in Watauga county, Patrick went to Watauga Medical Center to discover his diagnosis and to understand more about living with diabetes. One of the first people he met was Paul Young, who was – and still is – an employee at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. Patrick was lugging his stereo into the hospital, as he was an artist and a “rock and roller”, getting ready for his two-week stay when Paul popped up and offered to help. Quickly Patrick’s diagnosis came up in conversation to which Paul responded, “Oh I’m a diabetic. Don’t let it slow you down at all!” The pair became quick friends and Patrick held on to Paul’s words.

When returning to Watauga county more than 20 years later, Patrick seized the opportunity to give back to the healthcare system that helped him when he was young. Patrick is an employee of Appalachian State, a professional artist, and a member of the Watauga County Arts Council. The council contacted him this year, knowing his experience, and asked if he would show his paintings in the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center. Patrick quickly agreed claiming that, “Your health is totally related to your atmosphere and usually most hospital settings aren’t very conducive to this reality”. He hoped that his paintings would be a welcome sight to those who walked through the halls.

The arts council went through a process of hand selecting paintings that would specifically evoke a positive feeling for the patients who would see them. Patrick’s exhibition contains a variety of works that he hopes will help the cancer center to be a warm, healing place. Art has changed his life in the most positive way, and he knows that the connection between art and health is closely interrelated. Patrick hopes the paintings will bring joy to those who see them.

Patrick was also pleasantly surprised to learn that Paul Young now works as the Nurse Navigator at the cancer center. In this role, Paul continues to encourage patients after they are diagnosed with cancer. The pair recently enjoyed being able to reconnect as they hung Patrick’s art work around the facility. The Watauga Arts Council and the cancer center look forward to continuing these exhibitions as the years go on.

The art pieces featured here are just a few of the beautiful works displayed for cancer center patients.


Photo Credits: Patrick J. Richardson

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