Healing Nita

Award winning artist Nita Turnage, co-founder of  Artica, an urban arts festival in St. Louis, MO, relocated to her ancestral home in Mississippi in 2017, and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with what doctors called stage zero   breast cancer, resulting in a mastectomy.  Sadly, as of June 2019, the breast cancer has returned, metastasizing to her liver and two vertebrae, at stage 4, which is considered terminal without aggressive treatment, and is often terminal even with treatment. Being told in June she had only weeks or months to live without chemo and radiation, she has begun the most aggressive treatment her body can withstand at her regional cancer center, a half hour away in McComb. Nita is accompanying this medical treatment with numerous holistic practices and dietary approaches, and receiving Reiki, Pranic Healing, CranioSacral Therapy, and shamanic energy work, in addition to her own mantra, reiki, and yoga practices. In this way, she is valiantly fighting the cancer on all levels, physical, mental, and spiritual. She and Hap are taking all this in stride, but of course the toll is huge for both of them. Every morning, five days a week, Hap drives her the one hour round trip to McComb  for radiation, chemo, and doctors appointments, then goes to work himself until 10:30 at night. Nita, of course, is unable to work, but there was a bright spot following her first week of chemo and radiation. She graduated from yoga teacher training, and was able to attend the ceremony with the rest of her class. It was a beautiful day.

Prior to her health issues, it has been the goal of Nita and her husband, artist Hap Phillips to turn her ancestral property into an artistic and spiritual retreat on the banks of the Tangipahoa River. Nita's reputation as an inspired collaborator and community organizer is well known in the artistic community of St. Louis, and these talents, along with hard work and artistic vision, were what propelled her move back to Mississippi, with the dream of providing a new outlet for creation and community on the land that has nurtured her family for over 150 years.

The return of her cancer diagnosis at stage 4, along with the chemotherapy, radiation, and holistic treatments have caused great financial hardship and the inability to move forward with their dreams to finish creating their artistic retreat. While Nita does have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, it only covers very basic hospital and medical costs. As of this date, it is not yet known how extensive or lengthy the treatment for the breast cancer will be.

The cancer and mastectomy have left Nita unable to work, and while Hap has taken a part-time job that was immediately available, prospects for full-time work in southwest Mississippi are slim, especially for a professional artist. The bills are starting to come in quickly, so the need for financial support is immediate and urgent.

This go fund me campaign has been created with the purpose of supporting Nita financially, emotionally, and spiritually, as she has supported so many others through the years, with the intention of raising funds to pay her hospital, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  Any funds left after medical bills are paid will go towards development of the Tangiluna Artists' and Spiritual Retreat. 

Hap and Nita's vision for the Tangiluna Artists' and Spiritual retreat is to provide an idyllic setting for artists, creative individuals, and seekers to have an opportunity to rest, recharge, and create. The Retreat, which is located in Chatawa, Mississippi, resides on 39 wooded acres, with a mile of undeveloped private access to the Tangipahoa River, and includes open fields usable for camping and art installation.

Chatawa is a peaceful and spiritual community that is also home to the historic St. Mary of the Pines convent. It is located eight hours south of St. Louis, MO, five hours south of Memphis, TN, and an hour and half from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA, and Jackson, MS. It is also a 20 minute drive from McComb, MS, the birthplace of Bo Diddley and a stop on the Missippi Blues Trail.
Once Nita is healed from her illness and surgery, there will be a need for volunteers to help rehab Diddie's Retreat House, a small Victorian-era farmhouse named for her grandfather that has been in Nita's family for over 100 years. Skills such as roofing, carpentry, painting, plumbing, electricity and general rehab and repair will be greatly appreciated, along with donations of materials and supplies. Volunteers can be housed in two bedrooms in Nita's home, and lovely camping sites are also available with bathroom, shower, and cooking access. 

Future plans for the Tangiluna Artists'  and Spiritual Retreat include providing art and spiritually-oriented workshops, acquiring additional adjacent land and unused housing to accommodate more retreaters, and creating a sustainable environment with vegetable gardens and off-the-grid power. Hap and Nita would also like to develop an artists network between the cities of New Orleans and St. Louis with opportunities for collaboration and exhibition. 

The most immediate need, of course, is for financial assistance. 
Thank you so much for your support of Nita, her health, and her dreams!

See more of Nita's work on Facebook! 

See Nita's artistic community, Artica, in St. Louis!

Sample of refrigerator magnets by Nita Turnage.

Example of Hap Philips' metal art, metal type may vary.

Diddie's Retreat House.

A country lane in Tangiluna.

The Tangipahoa River, looking south.

The former Chatawa Post Office, with the Tangipahoa bridge behind.

The neighboring historic convent of St. Mary of the Pines.

Donations (70)

  • Sara Heck
    • $75 
    • 4 yrs

Fundraising team (3)

Marianne Nubel
Summerville, SC
Juanita Turnage
Elizabeth N McDonald
Team member

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