Gift of Life - a Tribute to Pam and John Derry

Sponsored by Karen Bonaker, Corel Painter Instructor and
Owner of Painter Talk and Digital Art Academy
Supported by Painter Talk Members, Digital Art Academy Students,
Jinny Brown, and Members of the Corel Painter Community

The Good News We All Hoped and Prayed For!

Read, mostly in chronological order:

A Related Story to Warm the Heart
An e-mail from Pam and John Derry
sent on March 25, 2009
A Thank You Note from Pam and John Derry that Accompanied a Gift Print of "Equinox"

Then click this link to read:

Current Status and History of the Gift of Life Fund

A Related Story to Warm the Heart

Occurred in Mid-September, 2008

If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you'll see it was first published on August 27, 2008. That was shortly after Karen Bonaker and I agreed to set up the Gift of Life Fund to help Pam and John Derry.

In mid September 2008, on my birthday, I had to go to the DMV to take the written test and get my driver's license renewed. That morning, as I sat watching the news and drinking my morning coffee, I realized my state of mind was in need of calming. After turning off the TV and having a conversation with my Creator, eventually that calm came. Later in the morning, I set of to face the music, praying I would at least pass the test but not at all sure that would happen as memorizing things is not my forte, especially when they're as colorless and uninspiring as the Driver's Handbook content. Still, I'd worked hard to be ready, so crossing my fingers, I proceeded. The rest of the day was a string of small and not-so-small miracles:

First, after getting my number at the DMV and sitting down to wait, a large jolly and talkative man sat down next to me. We had a great time chatting and parted only when my number was called.  Second, (and we all know the reputation DMV employees have for being  less than happy and often grumpy... even rude), the first DMV person I was sent to could not have been nicer!  Third, I was so surprised and delighted having found a nice DMV person that I forgot to zip up my binder full of loose papers and they spilled all over the floor! Slapping a hand to my forehead, I turned to the long line of people standing between two "ropes" waiting to get to another desk and said, "I really did it, didn't I?" Without hesitation, one of the men stepped under the rope and picked up all of my spilled papers! Then after being thanked profusely, he turned and left the building. He lost is place in line just to help me!  Fourth, the next DMV person was equally as pleasant as the first and told me I'd passed the test with a 100% score!  Fifth, as I walked to the other side of the building to leave, a man sitting in the middle of that part of the room got up from his chair to open the door for me. That just doesn't happen here in Silicon Valley where people are stressed out, in a rush, and forget what it is to be human, let alone so gracious.

Sixth and most wonderful miracle: My next stop before going home was at a large discount drug store. After a few minutes, I found myself in a conversation with a perfect stranger (that's not unusual for me but the rest was extraordinary). She and I talked for what must have been close to an hour, about our lives, our interests, and our experiences. Somewhere along the way, I told her about the Gift of Life Fund as it was something very much on my mind and, as we continued to other subjects, she interrupted me to say she wanted to contribute. I'd not intended to ask her to contribute and said so while she opened her wallet and handed me a $20 bill. Of course I thanked her and said I'd make sure her donation was added to the fund, when there was enough in the fund to purchase a framed print, names would be dropped in a hat and one would be picked as the winner and she might win an "Equinox" print. She said, "Oh, no! I don't want anything. I just want to give, I'm so grateful to be a breast cancer survivor!"  

Talk about coincidences! Her name is Pam, too.

A few days ago, in April 2009, I called this Pam to let her know how Pam Derry is doing and she was thrilled to hear the news. She said something about my not having forgotten her as if she was surprised. I responded, "I would never forget you!"

My new friend Pam, a warm, intelligent, caring, and charming person, and I are planning to get together one day soon for a cuppa coffee.

Thanks, Pam and John Derry, Karen Bonaker, my new friend Pam, and all of you at Painter Talk and around the Painter community who made this experience a rich and loving one. It's one I'll remember for a very long time. 

May your days be filled with miracles!



An E-mail from Pam and John Derry

Dated March 25, 2009

Dear Karen & Jinny:

Pam and I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks for your "conspiracy"  to create the Gift of Life Fund. Beyond the monetary relief it has provided, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Painter  and Digital Art Academy community.

An unwelcome surprise like leukemia is a real sobering experience on many levels. It forces one to re-evaluate life's priorities—which in  some ways is a blessing in disguise. One of those blessings is being  the recipients of an outpouring of love and prayers. We certainly appreciate the many well wishes, prayers, donations, emails, phone calls, and more that we have experienced throughout Pam's ordeal.

The good news is—and I'd be happy if you shared this with everyone on your forums—is that Pam appears to have no residual side effects from the bone marrow transplant. This is typically not the norm; many bone marrow recipients experience loss of energy, skin and intestinal problems, etc. Pam has had none of these effects. In fact, she's been saying that it seems like the transplant never (physically) happened.

Of course, the emotional part of the experience remains and we have to be vigilant for the next few years with the hopeful outlook that the leukemia will not return. Currently, a bone marrow transplant is the curative procedure for leukemia. However, there is always a chance that every single leukemic cell in the body has not been destroyed by the chemotherapy process.

There is a great deal of ongoing research in the field of blood cancers. The de-coding of the human genome has opened up entirely new approaches to targeted therapies designed to isolate and eliminate  leukemia. If the disease should return, Pam will likely be the beneficiary of one of these new targeted therapies. Until then—if ever—we are happy to be beyond leukemia and life is returning to normal for  us.

Thanks again for your generous donation of time and resources, and  thank you to all who donated to the Gift of Life Fund. It will always  hold a special place in our hearts.


John and Pam Derry

A Thank You Note from Pam and John Derry that Accompanied a Gift Print of "Equinox"

Dated April 2009

Dear Jinny,

Thank you so very much for your "Gift of Life" fund -- it meant so much to us to have you and Karen in our corner as we went through this challenge. The financial help was much appreciated, and the moral support helpful, too, during this time.

You will be glad to know things are pretty much back to normal now! I am back working and leading a normal life -- I feel grateful and blessed!

Thank you again for your thoughtfulness and support. We hope you enjoy the print!


Pam and John Derry

Current Status and History of the Gift of Life Fund

Current Status:

As of March 25, 2009, the Gift of Life Campaign has come to a close and Karen Bonaker posted the following update at Painter Talk forums:

Dear friends,

Last year Jinny Brown contacted me about starting a fund to help the Derry's off set the medical costs due to Pam's diagnosis of cancer. The campaign is coming to an end and I have sent the final payment of $490.00 to John and Pam. Our Painter Talk Calendar event was a huge success which added to the fund as well. Thank you to all who participated. 

We raised: Gift of Life

$1, 772. 98

We purchased:

Six prints of John Derry's Equinox.

We Raised Calendar Sales:


After prints were purchased and calendar sales are in our check to John and Pam will be $490.00

The Painter Talk Calendar event Karen refers to was calendars she had printed including art done by students enrolled in the four week Holiday Open Studio 2008 class from late November to late December, 2008. All proceeds from sales of those calendars were donated by Karen to the Gift of Life Fund.

Thank you, Karen, for everything you did to make the Gift of Life Campaign a success!


(Links to Painter Talk forums where contributions to the Gift of Life Fund could be made have been deleted as the campaign has come to a close.)

Click these links to jump down the page to the

List of Winners - Fund Balance up to January 16, 2009 - SPECIAL NEWS

To fill you in on what this is all about
(written August 27, 2008):

In short, it's about a way we can help John and Pam Derry even if our budget doesn't allow us to purchase John's beautiful Equinox painting individually. Of course if we can, that's a good thing too.

Most of you know John Derry was one of the original authors of Fractal Design Painter, now Corel Painter. He's remained involved with Corel Painter and a great contributor to the Painter community, a talented and generous artist and friend to all of us, to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude.

Some of you may also be aware that John's wife, Pam was diagnosed with leukemia about 2-1/2 years ago. Over the past months since February 2008, John has kept us up to date on their journey, writing the touching and inspiring story in his own beautiful way. For the full story, you'll find all of the entries at The PixlBlog. Scroll down the page to the entry dated February 25, 2008 Why I've Been AWOL, then read following entries in order from just above that entry up to the top of the page. To see a larger view of the Equinox painting and read a shorter version of the story, or if you'd like to purchase a print of John's painting, visit this page: Equinox, a Fine Art Print by John Derry

When I posted the news at Painter Talk in early August 2008, that John and Pam Derry need our help, the response was heartwarming to say the least. Though some members said they could not afford to purchase a print of John's painting, they all said they were eager to contribute and asked me if I could find a way for them to do that. After thinking about it for a few days, I talked to Karen Bonaker, Painter Talk and Digital Art Academy site owner and Corel Painter instructor, and proposed a solution.

Karen immediately and enthusiastically agreed. This was not surprising as Karen is always cheerful, kind, and generous, and it was pure pleasure working out the details with her. In only a few days, Karen set up a way for all of us to show our support and appreciation for Pam and John Derry's courage through a difficult time. In addition, we can do this while honoring John's wishes to help by purchasing prints of his beautiful Equinox painting.

Now, whether or not you're a member of Painter Talk or purchasing John's Equinox print is within your budget, you can help by contributing to the fund and in doing so, enter the contest to win a John Derry Equinox print. You'll find the current list of winners below.

Thank you, Karen! 
Thanks to all of you for caring.

If you're not a member of Painter Talk, and want to learn about the contest rules, and contribute if you wish, go to the:

(Link Removed)

If you are a member of Painter Talk, here's a quick link to the thread where you can read about and contribute to:

(Link Removed)

Many thanks to all of you who contributed to
the Gift of Life Fund!

Six Winners:

On Saturday, November 29, 2008, Patricia Witter and Douglas Fretz became the fifth and sixth winners of a John Derry "Equinox" print!

Congratulations, Patricia!

Congratulations, Douglas!

On Thursday, October 30, 2008, Marcia Fasy became the fourth winner of a John Derry "Equinox" print!

Congratulations, Marcia!

On Sunday, September 22, 2008, 
Ileana Frómeta Grillo became the third winner of a John Derry framed "Equinox" print!

Congratulations, Ileana!

On Thursday, September 11, 2008, Pam Leftcourt-PML Photography became the Second
Winner and chose to receive a John Derry "Equinox" unframed print

Congratulations, Pam!

On Wednesday, August 27, 2008, DorisS' name was drawn she was notified she is the First Winner of a John Derry framed "Equinox" print!

Congratulations, Doris!

Fund Balance:  $252.98 as of Friday January 16, 2009.

SPECIAL NEWS about the Fund Balance (be sure to read what Karen has done):

Both Karen and I have been extremely busy and we missed an update since October 31, 2008 when the fund balance was #175.10, so I'll list it below along with what's happened since then.

$203.62 until this Special News:

Added November 29, 2008 - In the spirit of holiday season, Karen Bonaker has donated $15.00 for every new student registration in the 2008 Holiday Open Studio class at Digital Art Academy! There were 34 new student registrations so that amounts to $510.00 added to the fund. Minus the $15.09 PayPal fee, that brought the balance to:
$698.53 - whoopie!

After purchasing the two newest winners' framed prints, the current balance is almost enough to pick another winner!

Thanks for your generosity dear Karen!

The total available in the fund was updated as contributions were made, with the updates taking into account the adjusted after-print-purchase balance and contributions made since the last winner was picked.

Following winner's name (or winners' names) were also added here as soon as we knew who they were, so contributors could watch this page for the news and also find it available at Painter Talk.

© Jinny Brown
August 27, 2008
last modified May 9, 2009