Friends rally around Boise artist who has cancer

Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-12 19:45:47-05

A well-known artist and professor at Boise State University found out she has a rare type of blood cancer.

While she prepares for a bone marrow transplant in Seattle soon, her friends back home are rallying around her.

Six On Your Side has been told that Erin Cunningham is in good spirits despite the fact she started chemotherapy treatments this week. Even after the surgery, she won't be able to return to the classroom for up to a year.

So, her friends are organizing a benefit to help pay for medical and living costs.

In addition to the upcoming benefit, Cunningham's friends created a GoFundMe site 25 days ago. It's already raised a little over $11,000.

With over 100 donated auction items from popular local artists and businesses, her friends and colleagues who are organizing the Dec. 20 benefit are impressed with the show of support.

"It's really turned into this incredible community showing of support," said Anna Demetriades, one of Erin's friends. "It's really been an amazing experience to work to put on this benefit because it shows, not only how generous our community is, but how much they love Erin."

Cunningham has been a member of Boise's art community for nearly 15 years.

After providing her own unique art perspective, and teaching others how to find their own for so many years, her friends are not surprised at the community's response.

"I think there are a lot of really great artists in the community making amazing work. And, it's a smaller community, so, everyone tends to know each other and are influenced by each other... we keep tabs on what we're doing, which is probably why so many have come together to support our friend," said April VanDeGrift, who shares studio space with Erin in Garden City.

While it's difficult to watch a friend go through such a trying time, Cunningham's fellow artists are behind her 100 percent. It seems apparent that she's not alone in the fight against cancer.

"We're all just kind of staying in touch with her and keeping tabs on how things are going," Demetriades said. "But, she seems to be doing really well, all things considered."

The benefit will take place at the Visual Arts Collective in Garden City on Sunday, Dec. 20. It runs from 2-8 p.m. Along with the auction items, there will be food and music.