Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1264, (1 - 7 October 2015)
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1264, (1 - 7 October 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Soul art

Nesmahar Sayed attended the first exhibition held by CanSurvive

Soul art
Soul art
Al-Ahram Weekly

“Chemo my love,” Berween Mustafa would say on her way to chemotherapy. “I repeated that because I did not want to hate the treatment, otherwise it would not work. Now I am a cancer survivor,” she added, smiling.
Mustafa found out about CanSurvive from Facebook, and started going with her daughter daughter to learn how to make the accessories she now presented with confidence and pride, all made during her illness. “The profits from selling the products,” she said, “will go as donations to the National Institute for Tumours.”
Entitled “Stronger and more Beautiful”, the two-day exhibition at Darb 17/18 in Old Cairo featured a wide variety of work produced by cancer survivors and patients. Participating artists seemed overwhelmingly reconciled to their experiences.
“Illness is freedom,” said Yossra Salah, a researcher at the People’s Assembly who has been living with chronic leukaemia since 2008. Once you are diagnosed, she explained, you no longer have as much to lose. You value life more, and you discover all of which without fear.
She had always enjoyed taking photos in Egypt and abroad, but it was her illness that gave her the idea for the project she is exhibiting: photos of cancer survivors in two phases of their lives.
“I took photos of them while they were narrating how they found out about cancer and determined to defeat it, and then again while they were getting on with their normal life and activities after they recovered.”
For Dalia Gredly, “Cancer has no relation with death.” After all, someone without cancer can die in their sleep. “I always loved handcrafts and recycling and I used to offer my work to relatives and friends as gifts,” she presented her work, adding in a cheerful tone, “But today as a participant in the exhibition I am offering them to charity associations that work with cancer patients.”  
Gredly says cancer just has a very bad reputation, because its treatment is so exhausting it can undermine even family. Gredly is adapting to the radio and chemotherapy, but her children – who were standing around at the exhibition – do not know of her condition.
For her part Nur Mohamed, “a fighter” as she likes to call herself, was abandoned by her husband when she was diagnosed with cancer six years ago. Her needlework hobby eventually got her out of the resulting depression. “With the support of my mother and sister I work after my children go to sleep,” she said, pointing to piece with verse of the Quran.
Abeer Salman, 27, calls the exhibition “Colours for us and others”. A graduate student at the Faculty of Applied Arts, her paintings depend on simple, colourful designs. “This helps any patient to feel optimistic, especially children, because life should go on,” she says. The exhibition and other events – children’s workshops, for example – have helped her and others through depression.
Two years ago Aya Mohsen, 20, was playing when she felt a pain in her left leg – eventually losing her knee, to be replaced with an artificial joint. “From football to the paintbrush,” she says, showing how her story is depicted in a series of paintings starting out with the football at the centre and in black-and-white and gradually gaining colour – with the football no longer there.
CanSurvive is an Egyptian association supporting cancer patients through the “You are beautiful” campaign, among other initiatives. The latest event, to take place tomorrow, 2 October (Breast Cancer Month), 7.30-9.30 am in Zamalek, is “Our Bike, Pink Ride”, celebrating breast cancer survivors. More information can be found at www.ictansurvive.com/h

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