Cancer woman’s artistic appeal

Moving story of Chai Cancer Care client who supplied the illustration for its Rosh Hashanah appeal.


Bringing a personal touch to Chai Cancer Care's Rosh Hashanah appeal card, the artwork is by a Hertfordshire woman who has benefited from the charity's services.

The original painting was produced and signed by Syd - her daughter's nickname for her - at one of Chai's weekly art therapy classes for clients at its Hendon premises.

The appeal card is being sent to 11,500 households, giving Syd "a tremendous thrill to know that my work will be seen by so many people".

A former dress designer and feminist firebrand, she lives in Borehamwood with her grown-up disabled daughter. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 30 years ago, when "there was absolutely no help or support at all". Although she made a full recovery, her doctors diagnosed a new cancer this year.

This time it had been "a totally different experience, partly because people are not so afraid to talk about it, but also because there are organisations like Chai to help the patients and their families and friends, on whom it can sometimes be even harder".

Chai's card depicts lit candles, to illustrate that "Chai is a place of light in the darkness, providing help and support to those who avail themselves of the many services they offer. I am so proud to be a part of the appeal, because I am aware how vital it is for Chai to raise money to expand its services".

Wearing a stylish blonde wig to cover chemotherapy-triggered hair loss, Syd presents a positive attitude to the world and to her illness. As well as joining Chai's art workshop - which has afforded her "the opportunity to fulfil a very frustrated creative streak" - she and her daughter also take advantage of the aromatherapy and other alternative therapies provided by the charity.

When she stays with her partner in North-East London, she can call on the home visit service available through Chai's new partnership at Redbridge Community Centre.

Syd is also grateful for the support she has received from the Borehamwood and Elstree United congregation, its rabbi, Rabbi Naftali Brawer, and, in particular, from emeritus minister Rabbi Alan Plancey and his wife Miriam.

Chai hopes that Syd's card will help to raise £100,000 to fund the further expansion of its services for a client base which has doubled in the last year.


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