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Cancer patient draws on his experiences

By Staff Reporter

A SOUTH Belfast cancer charity is displaying unique work by an artist living with the disease at their Eglantine Avenue HQ. ‘Matthew’s Fantastic Journey’ is on show at Cancer Focus NI until June 26, and features the work of Killyleagh man Matthew Knowles, who was diagnosed with leukaemia back in April 2008.

Expressing his experience through artwork, married father-of-one Matthew also prised the services offered by Cancer Focus during his battle.

“Life took on a different pace – all of a sudden I was going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions.  I had to spend weeks in hospital only getting out for a weekend before starting my next session of treatment,” Matthew explained.

“I was offered a bone marrow transplant and was very lucky that two family members were a match. Although very painful, the transplant was successful, and I was able to start on the long, slow process of recovery.”

Speaking of his introduction to what is termed ‘art therapy’, he continued: “It was Cancer Focus counsellor Leo McGarry who encouraged me to start drawing again. I’d always enjoyed art but since I’d been ill, I’d lost interest in it.

“I half-heartedly went along to one of the group sessions and slowly began to ease myself into drawing again. The group was great – everyone had been affected by cancer so it felt like we were all in it together.  If I wasn’t able to go for a couple of weeks people would ask me how I was – there was real concern for my welfare.

“Some of my paintings are more abstract as I got really interested in examining blood cells under the microscope and I liked to try to replicate the patterns and shapes they represent. I’ve used my imagination about how the cancer cells would look as I couldn’t bear to see them and think about the damage that they’d done to my body.

Joanne Robinson, Art Therapist at Cancer Focus, said: “We are thrilled that Matthew has decided to display his paintings and we hope lots of people will come along and support this unique event.

‘Matthew’s Fantastic Journey’ exhibition will be open Monday – Friday between 9am and 5pm and admission is free.

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