Art Therapy

I found art therapies really helpful as they act as a form of mindfulness and keep the mind grounded.  With every stroke of the pencil on the paper, I was thinking about the shape of the drawing and how each pencil stroke would develop the picture.  This process stops any other intrusive thoughts of cancer from entering your mind.  I found this really helpful when my mind was starting to quieten down.  I felt that my mind had to reach a point of calm before I could engage properly with detailed art.   Some arts require less intense concentration which can help when the mind is more stressed, for example, knitting/crochet, scrap-booking/photo albums, card-making.  

If you are interested in joining an art project, The Breast Cancer Art Project is specifically for people who have been affected by breast cancer (direct and indirect).  All funds raised by this project go to breast cancer charities.  I felt very proud of having my artwork presented so nicely.  It somehow felt more poignant on their website than sitting in a drawing pad at home.  This project has given it meaning and purpose.  Visual communication is a powerful thing.

Here is further information about art therapy and art therapy classes and also hereDrama therapy can also help with expression and confidence building.

Here's another great project which I recently took part in: 

Helena's visualisation work
The Cancer Chapter: Your Stories is an amazing project run by Helena Traill.   1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer. She wants cancer patients to talk honestly about the disease to promote open discussion. Her work is inspired by the ‘Cancer On Board’ badges ( and she will be making a documentary and book. Learn more about the project here, or via the instagram @thecancerchapter .  A fabulous update on this project: it will now be published as a book: 100 Stories.  Today (21/10/2019) the Kickstarter to fund this project successfully met the target!  

Helena's father has had cancer for 19 years and he doesn’t like talking about ‘being ill' - so this project is all about open conversation and normalising the cancer discussion!

Helen studied Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins in London and this project was her final piece. She made a book and short documentary which was shown at the public degree show in June 2019 (40,000 people visit the degree show every year, so this is a great place to promote open discussion). Helena put credits alongside all of her work, of the people and charities that have supported her along the way. This currently includes Cancer On Board, The Brain Tumour Charity, Shine, and Spaces by Regus. She also listed all the people who have taken part and their blogs, as about 50% have one.  All the portraits formed part of the book and Helena made about 100 portraits.

My Artwork

Below are examples of some art which I've done.  It doesn't have to be award winning art.  It should be enjoyable and therapeutic.  Notice the gap in my drawing dates which were done before my diagnosis and after my treatment finished.  During my treatment I didn't draw and made cards instead.  I also enjoy photography and you can find me posting photography work on Instagram @nikkibednall

After my cancer treatment had finished, I felt a sense of urgency to draw pictures of my children as I had been so scared of being taken from them.  I wanted to cherish drawing every tiny detail of their faces.

My Son at a play centre as a child
Sketched from a photograph
My Daughter in Disneyland as a child
Sketched from a photograph
My Son and Daughter sharing a drink in Disneyland
This is one of my favourite photos of them

"Eye Has Seen Too Much"
Featured in the Breast Cancer Art Project in February 2019.
This sketch sums up how I feel about cancer:  what I've been through and what I've seen. 
My eyelashes and eyebrows have grown back but I have seen so much suffering because of this disease.
Mother & Child
Sketched from a photograph
Here are examples of the type of cards I made during chemotherapy.  This was honestly the limit of artistic coordination my brain could handle at the time!  Strangely, I could still work well with data analysis and logical operators but struggled with mental arithmetic (even more than usual).  I had to rely on my partner to calculate times for taking medications.

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