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Helping a friend
Art vs. cancer in Londonderry
For the month of April, the works of Londonderry artist Deborah Curtin are on display and up for auction at Coffeeberries café.
Those stopping by for a quick cup of joe can place the their bids on a variety of Curtin's works, ranging from detailed color pencil renderings to vivid photographs of cityscapes to delicate watercolor paintings.
Curtin said she's known Londonderry resident Brian Winer for many years - her oldest daughter graduated from Londonderry High School with him in 2004.
Winer, an executive chef at Crave Brasserie and Wine Bar in Amesbury, Mass., has been battling state IV metastatic melanoma of the brain and lung since early last June.
It's been an uphill battle for Winer, 26, who is unable to work or drive as he undergoes treatments. To make matters worse, he has no health insurance.
"I knew I had to do something to help," Curtin said on Wednesday. "This was something I could do."
During a recent chat with Coffeeberries owner Christine Adie, Curtin learned that Brian's mother had once worked for the popular coffee shop,
Last year, Adie expanded her business to include a large seating area and both agreed it was the perfect spot to showcase Curtin's art for a noble cause.
Winer, who now walks with a cane, said he's feeling pretty good these days but his struggles aren't yet over.
Last fall he began pinpoint radiation treatments on his brain to target several tumors along with IV infusion treatments of a potent yet extremely expensive cancer drug.
His family members said the cost of just four of the IV treatments totaled nearly half a million dollars, and some of the side effects were brutal.
In early February, Winer found himself in the emergency room at Massachusetts General Hospital when he was unable to walk and his left arm was weakened.
It was then Winer learned that one of his existing tumors had hemorrhaged and another tumor had emerged on his brain.
The good news, however, was that a lung tumor and some of this smaller brain tumors had shrunk.
"I feel fantastic right now," Winer said on Wednesday. "But just five weeks ago, I thought I was dying. Things were looking pretty grim."
The side effects of his medication - including a painful skin rash - seems to be subsiding, though Winer must now wear plenty of sunscreen before venturing outdoors.
"I smell like the beach all the time," he said with a grin. "It's been a really crazy year."
Next month, Winer will return to his oncologists for a checkup. He's due for a body scan in July and he's hoping for more good news.
In the meantime, Winer said he's keeping a positive attitude and on days when he's feeling good, he loves whipping up a pot of homemade soup for his friends and family members.
"I'm thinking ahead right now, and I'm working on a new menu for the restaurant," he said.
Those wishing to bid on Curtin's artwork are encouraged to stop by Coffeeberries, located at in the Apple Tree Mall at 4 Orchard Drive in Londonderry, during normal business hours.
The café is open Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit www.cookupacure4brian.com.
Closing the season in style