This mixed media painting was created by my sister, nephew, niece and I in 2008 in an art therapy session organised to support cancer survivors and their families. My sister Helen, then a cancer survivor, was very active in activities supporting cancer survivors and their families.
After a time of active imagination of what is important to our family in adversity, we were invited as a family to paint this on canvas. To help us compose our painting, we each named something that was important to us when facing adversity.
My sister named “faith” which she said is important as a shield or protection against doubt and negativity. My nephew named “dragons” which can be said to represent courage in the face of danger. My niece named “rainbow” which represents the promise of better days. I named “love” which gives us strength to go beyond ourselves to care for each other.
The four chambered heart with red and silver crystals in the different chambers at the center represents the shield of “faith” and “love”. We used a balloon to pick up different colours of the rainbow on our palette to paint a background of darker colours at the bottom of the canvas to represent courage. This gradually transforms to brighter colours moving upwards towards the top of the canvas to represent promise.
My sister had been in remission for five years before her cancer recurred. As she wanted to use her experience to help others, she started the Revival Connection, a support group for those who had recurring cancer and their families. She persevered in her cancer support work even as her condition steadily worsened, helping and inspiring many cancer patients and their families.
After my sister’s passing in 2009, the painting we created together now sits in my living room as a vivid reminder that life may include challenging situations which are beyond our control. When that happens, connecting deeply with what is truest and of value to us in our depths in response can help us live with faith, courage, promise and love.
Written by Dr Hee Soo Yin in loving memory of her late sister Ms Helen Hee
#what matters in adversity #courage #faith #love #promise