A Dragon, Whimsical Illustration, and Genetic Mutations

Once upon a time, there was a whimsical illustrator who had enjoyed a decades-long career making art for storybooks, magazines, greeting cards, and so much more for kids and grown-ups.

Then one day, while working on an art assignment and thinking about a great trip they had just returned from and a promising future, his wife, soul mate, and muse walked into his studio and said, “I have a painful lump.” From whimsical illustrator to advanced-stage cancer caregiver, life literally changed in the blink of an eye.


My wife died needlessly because two short sentences on a piece of paper didn’t get shared years before her diagnosis due to overt genetic illiteracy.

Hereditary cancer changed everything. I’m now using my artistic abilities to try and help people understand how families can share the EXACT SAME GENETIC MUTATION over numerous generations and that there are cancers that are preventable. (See www.genetionary.org)

The coming New Year will bring new efforts to help increase genetic knowledge and hereditary cancer awareness with more illustrations and to tell cancer to take a flying f***!

Best wishes to you and your genetic relatives this coming New Year.



Looking at Inherited Mutations

It seems like an appropriate time of year to share this as part of my advocacy to raise hereditary cancer awareness and save lives. 

Available at Genetionary, a glossary of inherited genetic mutations for download. (Under "I" for "Inherited Mutations.")


A Timeless Classic

Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol was first published in London on December 19, 1843, 180 years ago. 

My illustration is 35 years old. 

Dickens' message is timeless.


What's Your Knowledge of Genes and Genetic Mutations that Cause Cancer?

Genetionary.org Screenshot

Not many people have a high GQ (genetic quotient). Genes and genetics are a mystery to so many. And when it comes to hereditary cancer genes it's even more of a mystery. Few are aware that we all have BReast CAncer genes in every cell of our bodies and what exactly those genes do. Not to mention the countless other important genes in our bodies.

I’m an artist turned hereditary cancer prevention advocate because a tragedy that could have been prevented wasn’t because of other people’s low GQ.

I coined the term "Genetic Quotient" and created a not-for-profit website, www.genetionary.org, with a simple glossary of terms and some easy-to-understand infographics to help raise awareness about genes, germline mutations, and inherited cancer syndromes. 

Knowledge is power. And it can be life-saving.






This Holiday season Think About Your Family Tree. Learn how family communication can help prevent cancer. Graphic created by Mark A. Hicks, illustrator, www.MARKiX.net

Sharing family health history can be a precious gift to give to loved ones. It might even be life-saving.

Because cancer doesn’t take the holidays off, neither do I in my cancer prevention advocacy. I created this graphic for the nonprofit Connect My Variant to help raise awareness about its mission, "To end hereditary disease by bringing families together." Learn more at www.ConnectMyVariant.org.

Please share. 


A Holiday Offering for Those Affected by Cancer

I created this art activity page as a gift to the readers and fellow contributors at the cancer care website Cure Today last year. Along with it, I authored a story about creating it. My wish is still the same, and the story and artwork can be shared again and again every year until my wish comes true. Please share.

Read the story and download the artwork here.


Coyote Claus -- Read by a Ranger -- and the Backstory

It’s always nice to see one of the books I illustrated read in a video, and this one is appropriate for the season. But, as with every book, there are usually backstories that no one knows about.

I loved working on this book. It is one of my favorites. Having been born and raised in the Southwest, it gave me a chance to whimsically illustrate the flora and fauna I love so much. And also a chance to reminisce about growing up in an area that was once filled with so many beautiful wide-open and unspoiled spaces. I hope the book brings a smile and some joy to all who read it.

I am reluctant to share this backstory; after all, it is the holidays. And it really isn’t the best way to promote a creative work. But what flows from the pen and brush doesn’t always reflect what is going on in real life.

This was one of the most difficult assignments I ever worked on because it was done while I was also my beloved late wife’s caregiver during her first occurrence of metastatic hereditary cancer to her brain*. Many late nights were spent working on the art while I also monitored my wife for signs of seizures or one of the other horrible side effects of whole-brain radiation as she slept.

If you are interested in the book, please know that any and all royalties I receive from the book get donated to hereditary cancer nonprofits.

The book is available from the publisher: Sunbelt Publications, your local bookshop (find one here: www.IndieBound.org), select National Park and National Monument bookstores, and of course, all the online booksellers. ISBN: 9781941384534

Thank you. And to ALL a good holiday season.

And thank you, Ranger Sorom at the Bureau of Land Management, for reading the book!

* Read more about my wife's hereditary cancer story at FORCE, FacingOurRisk.org.