The mystery of the cancer doors


Doors, doors, doors ... Everywhere I go I see doors. I was amazed Sunday evening when I went out to shoot photos of the Logan County Cancer Society’s Doors of Encouragement display that downtown Bellefontaine was abuzz with people walking the streets.

No stores were open and only a few restaurants, but there was life on the streets thanks to the talents of local artists who wanted to do their part to brighten the lives of those suffering from cancer, honor those claimed by the disease and support those who have overcome the plight.

When I first heard about the project last year, I kind of scratched my head wondering how doors and cancer were connected and was concerned that the effort spearheaded by cancer survivor Melody Couchman would not be well-received by the community.

Needless to say, the event turned out to be a success with 53 doors on display, a large crowd on hand for the auction at the end of the event and a total of $27,000 raised to support the local organization that supplies wigs, transportation and other needs for those in our community battling cancer.

So when announcements of the event came around again this year, I knew we could expect to see more excellent examples of our local talent.

And I was not disappointed. Given more time to consider a theme and plan for their projects, I would say the artists displaying doors this year have only improved on their work. And several new faces have joined in the project, which totals 70 doors on display.

Not only talented artists like Wanda Stahler, Robyn Wunderle, Marilyn Reed and the aspiring artists of our school systems have contributed to the project. Numerous businesses and individuals have created works of art that are poignant, personal, reflective, inspiring and energetic.

Some are even downright fun.

Take 12-year-old Landon Wenger’s screaming red “I Spy” door that features hundreds of items glued to the door in a random jumble. The goal is to find the hidden items he has listed on the other side.

On my first lap around the display, I couldn’t help but be drawn into the quest to find the eight keys and letters for the words HOPE and CURE.

But possibly one of my favorites is a bright blue British-style police public call box on one side with a painting of the universe on the other.

Who could have done this? Maybe it was that eccentric doctor ... What was his name again? The identification tag reads only, “Sponsored by Peach Tree Books & Gifts.”

If you’re missing the reference, the blue door is the entrance to the Doctor’s spaceship, the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) in the BBC series Doctor Who that has drawn a cult following for the past 50 years. No one knows the Doctor’s real name.

But what does it have to do with cancer?

Maybe the Doctor, who blips around time and space solving the massive problems of the universe and protecting those in need from wicked designs of evil aliens, has landed in Bellefontaine to help us solve the enigma of cancer.

Who knows what this mysterious artist had in mind when painting a cancer door like a clever doctor’s spaceship?

But I think that is true with all the doors when you stop and look at them.

Each is a mystery to be unraveled and has a different meaning to each of us who view them.

They may remind us of a particular person or they may inspire us by the admirable qualities that person represented.

They may make us laugh or bring tears to our eyes. Some may make us think and some may let us admire the passion in the artist’s soul.

Others yet may make us happy for humanity that large groups of people can come together and work as a team to design a single piece of art that reflects their collective creativity.

It’s that sense of mystery and wonder inspired by the doors, along with their inherent beauty and uniqueness that draws people into the project.

While I had my doubts last year, I can now say this is a noble and one-of-a-kind project that we should all be proud to have in our community.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner Staff Writer and admirer of both artists and those who have endured the struggle against cancer. He can be reached at