Rylee Black remembers the day it all changed, when she and her father were enjoying a day of camping. Instead of picturing it as a day filled with family memories, nature, and the outdoors, she remembers it as the day her father found a hole in his throat.
“We got scared,” Black, 20, tells Yahoo Beauty. “We didn’t know what it was, so he scheduled an appointment with the doctor.”
As a result, Black’s father was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer. That was two years ago.
“Throughout the whole process my dad has only shown me strength,” she says. “I love and care for him very much.”
Her father, a mechanic, had to stop working because of the illness. Her mother is a hairdresser who works from home.
“My mom has become his caretaker. She makes sure he goes to all the appointments and she’s always on top of what medicine he needs to take,” she says. “She is the backbone of our family.”
Black’s family and friends have been emotionally and financially supportive throughout the past two years. However, money was beginning to thin out to pay for the expensive cancer treatments, and they stopped receiving donations.
“I noticed my dad’s spirits were down,” Black says. “As a daughter it was so hard for me. He’s my hero — I just want him to be happy and get well.”
An artist since she was very young, she decided to put her skills and talents to use to help her family the best way she knew how.
Early this month, she tweeted, “My dad has stage 4 head and neck cancer and I’m raising money for his medical bills by doing custom paintings. Please spread the word.”
Black offers personalized pet portraits in return for donations to her father’s YouCaring page.
My dad has stage 4 head and neck cancer and I'm raising money for his medical bills by doing custom paintings. Please spread the word ???? pic.twitter.com/BxcAKRuZdN
— rylee (@ryleesara_) June 3, 2017
Her effort to raise funds for her cancer-sick father’s treatment went viral. The original post currently has nearly 16,000 retweets and more than 15,000 likes.
I would love a painting of my dog! How does it work? pic.twitter.com/z8Lz68TEGm
— Liza (@h_lizaa) June 4, 2017
Can you paint this picture of my Turbo? ❤️ pic.twitter.com/KXYiJFCNhV
— Ashley Nunez (@Ashleeynunez) June 4, 2017
Hey you prob have hundreds of requests but would love you to paint my cat! His Instagram is @stanleyfluffycat if you wanna see more pics pic.twitter.com/3fndiAT0CT
— Cathy Ellerbeck (@Cathyy_Elle) June 4, 2017
I’d love to buy two paintings of my dogs! (: pic.twitter.com/Rpp0aBm8ee
— Dani☽ (@danijpeterson) June 4, 2017
Would this be possible to do?? pic.twitter.com/vPQuuMZFu0
— Maddy Kelly (@maddykelly10) June 4, 2017
Black is overwhelmed by the response to her tweet but thankful it happened.
Black says she will get little sleep in the next few weeks, as she will be pulling all-nighters filling all the commissions for dog portraits from donors to her father’s YouCaring page.
“I’m so happy my dad is smiling again. This whole thing has been such a blessing,” she says. “People have shared with me similar stories and it makes me feel that he can overcome this — I am positive he’s going to be OK.”
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