Mar 01, 2020 8:00 AM


Emma Wageman (left) and her mother standing in front of “Trial of Hope...Last Hill” by artist Al Rounds, located on the fourth floor of the cancer hospital.
Emma Wageman (left) and her mother standing in front of “Trial of Hope...Last Hill” by artist Al Rounds, located on the fourth floor of the cancer hospital.

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When developing plans for Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), Jon and Karen Huntsman saw art as an important part of their vision—“to make sure the environment would be as healing as the medicine.” HCI is home to a museum-quality collection of original paintings, sculpture, and pottery—a total of approximately 2,500 pieces. The significance of this is most appreciated knowing that the entire collection comes solely from donation. Learn more about the collection and how to donate: huntsmancancer.org/art

When I was 19 years old, I found myself in a hospital bed on the fourth floor of Huntsman Cancer Institute. I had just received a bone marrow transplant, and I was beyond miserable. This was my second round of cancer treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma, which had started a year earlier.

Before I was admitted to the hospital, I was full of hope—excited to get my transplant so I could move on with my life. Then I started the transplant and I had never been in so much pain and misery. I remember praying to God and saying, “Please, let me die.”

Every day, my angel mother would help me take a walk around the unit. On one particular day, we walked past a painting that I’m sure we had passed a thousand times. This time, it hit me like never before.

“Trial of Hope...Last Hill” by artist Al Rounds depicts a 13-year-old girl who was part of the Willie handcart company that traveled to Utah in 1856. You can see hope and fortitude in the girl’s face as she braves a ruthlessly cold and unforgiving journey.
“Trial of Hope...Last Hill” by artist Al Rounds depicts a 13-year-old girl who was part of the Willie handcart company that traveled to Utah in 1856. You can see hope and fortitude in the girl’s face as she braves a ruthlessly cold and unforgiving journey.

The painting is of a pioneer woman who is standing by herself, holding a handcart, looking forward. It hit me how completely selfish I was being. I was so blessed just being in that building, being taken care of by amazing nurses and doctors. My family was sacrificing so much to help me through the incredibly difficult time. I was alive because of the miracles of medicine.

I didn’t have to put all my belongings in a wooden handcart and walk thousands of miles to get away from oppression. I live in a beautiful place where I can worship and live how I want.

Life is an incredible blessing, despite all the struggles we go through. That’s what I saw in that strong pioneer woman’s eyes—hope. She gave me some that day. She saved my life. After I decided not to give up, I started recovering and I was so much happier.

Now, three years later, I still look back to that time. My heart is filled with hope for the future and so much gratitude for life.

Emma Wageman

Visitors can take a self-guided art tour through public areas of our buildings. Ask for a brochure at the HCI hospital information desk.

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