Artful Healing: Strength, Hope, & Vitality in Cancer Journey


A first-hand glimpse of art’s transformative and healing power, while also doing good for the community.

Serene landscapes, picturesque flowers and colourful wildlife may be scenes we sometimes take for granted amid the bustle of modern life. But going through cancer — or journeying with someone who has — will often lend new meanings, such as hope and resilience, to these everyday sights.

With this in mind, the theme of “Strength, Hope and Vitality” proved the inspirational force behind artworks painted at the Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) Charity Art Jamming. The event, which kicked off PCC’s 18th anniversary celebrations, was held on 24 February 2024 at the Visual Arts Centre, with all proceeds going to the Singapore Cancer Society.

A total of 57 participants, which included patients, their loved ones and members of the wider community joined in the fun and gained a first-hand glimpse of the transformational and healing power of art. Special guests Jaime Teo (@jmeteo) and Gale Choong (@paintz_bygale), and seven key opinion leaders were also present.

In his welcome remarks, Dr Khoo Kei Siong, Deputy Medical Director and Senior Consultant, Medical Oncologist at PCC, shared why tools like art are especially useful in the face of a cancer diagnosis. “If you get that diagnosis, your whole life changes,” he said. “Your plans may have to be put on hold, finances may be strained, relationships may become challenged. But going through cancer means you come out stronger — often with a new footing in life — and you may figure out what’s really important to you. Art can be instrumental in that self-discovery.”

His words summed up the experiences of special guest Gale Choong, whose breast cancer journey has inspired an exciting new chapter in her life. “No one wants cancer, but it happened for a reason and many fresh perspectives came out of the experience,” she shared. “I picked up art during the COVID-19 lockdown and recently decided to step away from the corporate rat race to spend more time on this newfound passion.”

As many art lovers will attest to, art can also heal. Fellow special guest Jaime Teo shared her own healing journey: “I picked up painting nearly eight years ago, at a time when I was healing and needed something to focus my attention on,” she recounted. “Being able to pick up painting that late in life was a reminder that I can do anything!”

Inspired by their words, participants then began to paint. Some had never painted before, while others were more confident with the art form. Regardless of their starting point, everybody was encouraged to express themselves authentically and freely. Trainers from the Visual Arts Centre were also on hand to offer practical advice on techniques and skills.

Participants were invited to have their creations photographed so that these could be shared in an online contest, from which the top 12 entries will be used in PCC’s calendar for 2025. Besides enjoying an afternoon of painting, participants also left the session with new friends and an understanding of the benefits of art therapy.

A SYMBOL OF STRENGTH, HOPE AND VITALITY

Jaime and Gale came together to create a piece of collaborative art in celebration of PCC’s 18th anniversary. The piece, titled The Tree of Hope, is a landscape painting of a tree standing strong and tall in the soft embrace of the morning sun amid a blooming field of yellow blossoms. It represents the unwavering strength, hope and vitality shared by our doctors and patients alike on the healing journey together.

POSTED IN Psychological Health, Up Close and Personal
PUBLISHED 01 MAY 2024