Expression as healing, Queen's art program aides cancer survivors

Published  9:00 AM HST Oct 18, 2012
HONOLULU -

For some people fighting cancer, the multitude of emotions that come with that diagnosis-- can be very difficult to express.

But a new program at Queen's Medical Center is helping patients AND caregivers learn how to express themselves, through art.

The radiation therapy waiting room is probably the last place you'd expect to see an art class. "They can communicate through color," said Jocelyn Cheng, Queen's Artist-in-Residence. "Because it says a lot, you can say what you are really feeling."

Artist Jocelyn Cheng knows exactly what her students, a mix of cancer patients and caretakers, are feeling.  She not only worked as an oncology nurse at the Queens Medical Center for two decades. Jocelyn is also a cancer survivor.

"I had a lot of fears, just with that cancer diagnosis. It is pretty consuming," added Cheng.

During her own recovery, she turned to art, discovering a new career. Her work is now featured in galleries statewide, but it's her role as Queen's Artist In Residence that she's most proud of.

Thanks to a LiveStrong Foundation grant, for the next year, every Tuesday, you'll find Jocelyn here, sharing her talents.

"Well we love it because we can create something that we haven't done before," said Joe Ramelb,  a cancer survivor and artist in Cheng's program. He and his wife Ann are new to painting, but she thinks he is a natural.

"He's excellent!" exclaimed Ann Ramelb, caregiver for husband Joe Ramelb. "He's a newcomer like us (laughs), very cute."

But the support doesn't just come from Cheng and the caregivers, it comes from all survivors. "We have different patients, and they have different ideas," said Joe. "We try to support each other."

The joy of that support and expression can be seen in every brushstroke, at a time when it is needed most.

"I just kind of wanted to share the joy with them," explained Cheng. "The joy that I have doing it, because it is very joyful."

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