Saturday, December 21, 2013

Walls With A Message In A Season Of Hope

FOLLOW ME down this long corridor at the Vancouver Cancer Clinic. Does it remind you (the way it does me) of "the tunnel" with a light at the end that some folks speak about after experiencing near death?

A recent visit there with my husband who was getting a PET scan to shed light on his non-life-threatening condition brought back memories of when I drove my sister to the clinic for chemotherapy.

My sister was strong, resilient and optimistic. Her zest for living, adventurous spirit and curiosity were attributes that likely helped extend her life for years. But she eventually succumbed ... as did our eldest equally strong and resilient sister who passed away earlier, also as a consequence of cancer.

My thoughts were inevitably on health challenges and the struggle to keep hope alive as I walked down the hallway and glanced at the walls lined with heartfelt expressions from patients, their families and healthcare providers.

The Revlon Arts In Medicine Tile Tales Project believes that the arts can act as a bridge to healing. Each tile in the collection has something poignant to say. In Overcoming Adversity (above) a patient in despair gets relief from her fears by envisioning a bright, thick carpet of brilliant hope rolled out beneath her.

Music, or any intense interest, is as uplifting as an imaginary carpet ride. In Discover Your Passion (above) I gravitated to words by Marshall who wrote, “It is never too late, it is never too early, to discover your passion, to sing your own song, to follow your bliss and to come to rest within your being.”

In the Hand Of Hope tile, Rosey speaks through vivid colors. “The yellow is for healing that flows through my wedding band," she explains. "My hand is reaching out to all our futures.”

Some live on through their works. Russell Kelly died in 1997 at the age of 48. His career included hosting a CBC radio show. Among his accomplishments he campaigned to end violence against women and helped raise funds for a shelter for women in Vancouver. Looking at his many photographs and writings lining one side of the corridor wall, I was struck by his wonderment in the face of a dangerous illness. In Eternal Whisperings (above) he writes in part, "... despite cancer, serenity feeds my soul."

Kelly also writes, “Disasters and tragedy plague the best of humanity. Bad things happen to good people. Yet even suffering may yield ultimate good. Ordinary people – often with the aid of compassionate fellow-sufferers transcend their limitations, grow through sorrow, and begin life again.”

Creative messages on clinic walls inspire hope that (when combined with timely and competent medical care) can lead to recovery. But even this may not be enough when modern lifestyles conspire against us.

Interestingly, the search to cure cancer has generated one of the most successful fundraising operations in decades. Yet, by the looks of the packed clinic, more and more people are getting the disease. I was shocked to learn an estimated 75,500 deaths from cancer are expected to occur in Canada in 2013. Has anyone NOT been effected by this disease in some way? I suspect such high numbers are due to cancer-causing agents being woven into the fabric of the products we use every day and in the very air that we breathe. If that is true should not investigating and cleaning up the hazards be as essential as the hunt to cure something that could have been prevented?

Since this is being written during the Christmas season that she loved most, I dedicate this post to my brave sister Alla (photo, 2005) seen here with me. She suffered greatly before reaching the light but she also lived a passionate, fulfilling and hopeful life.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms


  1. By going through the corridor tunnel of the hospital, the patients could see the light at the end. I suppose the journey would be dark and hard, but the light emitted by the supporters would ignite the weakening light within the patient to endure and finally overcome. I’m captivated by the radiant smiles of the two of you. With best wishes to those who are courageously fighting with the disease. Merry Christmas to you.


  2. What a thought provoking post. I think it's great that there are encouraging messages and art works on the walls of the clinic. I do think the arts can be a consolation and an inspiration. A lovely picture of you and your sister.
    Have a lovely and peaceful Christmas and a bright 2014.

  3. Nice shot of you and your sister. Great post and shots!

  4. A lovely photo of you and your sister, and this is a great post. and I would love to see walls like that in every hospital/care center. It would be tremendous to see all those moving works of art full of love and hope. One day they will find a cure for this terrible disease.

  5. It's a horrible difficult disease to fight...but thankfully there are those who can share love and compassion. Cancer clinics, while not the place you want to be at, at all, are full of amazing staff, and volunteers, and thank goodness for their help to make the time spent there a little easier.

    Your sister's photo shines, she must have been a wonderful person, it shows in her face.


  6. Very touching post. I love the photograph of you and your sister. Cancer is such a dreadful pervasive disease. I hope you and your family have a happy Christmas.

  7. What a moving post. Wishing you and yours much peace and joy.

  8. Hi Maria,
    What a great picture. You are both beaming with love and the outline of your bodies looks like the shape a heart. That's a very special moment that was captured. Merry Christmas, love Sherry

  9. Such a moving and very touching post indeed! And I do love the photo of your and your sister!! Thank you so much for sharing it with us! Hoping you have a lovely and very Merry Christmas!!


  10. What a poignant post...especially for those who have lost family members to the disease and those who are living with the disease. I loved that you shared the picture of you and your dear sister. The wall in this cancer center are wonderful. I wish our cancer center did this. It would be so uplifting. There are pictures in the examining rooms but not the halls.

  11. Oh thank you so much for this thoughtful and (ultimately) uplifting post. A lovely tribute to your beautiful and brave sister and to the others whose artistry with words and pictures you have shared. People who teach us to meet adversity head on finding happiness and joy even in these circumstances.

  12. Wonderful tribute to your brave sister and YOU ~ sending lots of distant reiki healing energy to you ~ holidays are hard at times but grateful for the memories ~ carol,xxx

  13. Christmas must be a difficult time for you not to be able to feel your sisters by your side but your post has such hope and inspiration within. A fitting and moving post for Christmas.

  14. A beautiful and love filled post… thank you for this gentle, generous, inspiring offering. Wishing you peace.

  15. I'm so sorry for the loss of your sisters. There is truth and wisdom in the artwork and words and I thank you for sharing them.
    Merry Christmas.

  16. A very touching post - thank you for sharing and reminding us that there are many around the world going through heartbreak due to various life-threatening health issues. May you find some comfort in recalling happier times spent with your sisters. Christmas blessings to you.

  17. A poignant post.

    I too lost a sister to cancer.

    I've heard so many people say that cancer is a huge industry and that they could find a cure for it but it would put a lot of folks out of work. Not a nice thought perhaps at this time of year.

    A cure won't bring our sisters back now but it would sure help those 75000 you speak of. I wish all their families hope and love.

    Have a blessed Christmas season.

  18. p.s. The photo of two sisters smiling is beautiful. It reminds us that through grief and loss there is also beauty, laughter and smiles. That is how it was with my family too.

  19. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I like the photo of you and your sister. I am sure she still is with you.


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