Chemotherapy with a splash of colour

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Belinda Ellis was at her 4-year-old daughter’s immunisation appointment when she first raised the alarm.

The Sydney school teacher had recently discovered a lump on her breast and decided to have it checked.

“I got the doctor to check it then,” Mrs Ellis recalls. “It turned out to be breast cancer, stage 3.

“I was initially shocked, but that turned to sadness that I may not see my daughter grow up and be part of her life.”

It was the news no woman wants to receive, but Mrs Ellis took it in her stride.

Determined to beat the cancer and watch her daughter grow up, she quickly visited her GP. It wasn’t long before she began chemotherapy at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Lifehouse is a world-class cancer treatment centre in Sydney, but it wasn’t just the facility’s state-of-the-art equipment and internationally trained specialists that helped Mrs Ellis.

During her treatment she benefitted from an art program run by a group called Arterie. The program uses qualified artists to enhance patients’ experience through various forms of art.

“I was first introduced to Arterie when they did a round of the day therapy suite,” she says. “They were striking in their orange aprons and calf length black boots.

“I loved meeting the artists in residence and speaking to them about their type of art.

“I think that being kept busy was paramount in my maintaining a positive outlook during my treatment.

“It’s not just medical treatment of the body that makes us get better.”

Mrs Ellis has finished chemotherapy and is now in the process of finding regular work. While it was not how she expected her life to unfold, she is grateful for what it has enabled her to do.

“I don’t have a stellar career or flashy material things…but I don’t regret it because I have had all that time with my child,” she says.

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