Ellen Selder-Berens (61) from Nuenen has been living with lymphoma for twenty years. She expresses her emotions through her artwork. With her project ‘Art after cancer,’ she wants to offer fellow sufferers a listening ear and the opportunity to express their feelings through art. “All emotions have a place and all emotions are good.”
It started with fatigue and headaches. She learned very quickly that it was cancer. Ellen was incurably ill. “It was a big blow. I thought I was going to die,” Ellen says.
Over the years, she received treatment several times. Cancer spread to her head. During this time, Ellen dropped out of art school. “But very quickly it became clear that my fears and emotions would not provide a perspective.” Painting brought healing to Ellen. “Art makes me forget everything. It’s so amazing. All my emotions come out on the canvas,” Ellen says.
“The doctors said there is hope.” – Ellen Selder-Berens
But then two years ago there was an unexpected turn in her life. “The doctors said: there is hope,” she says. They used immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is offered only for certain types of cancer. “These medicines kept my cancer cells in check.” Ellen must continue to take these medicines throughout her life. “It has been an intense time, but without these medications, I would no longer be here,” says Ellen.
Ellen started following grief, loss, and transition course along with creative therapy. With these, she can offer other cancer patients or loved ones, tools for coping with cancer. “Through talking, clay, and painting I want to give shape to these emotions. I start by using colors that associate with certain emotions at that moment. All emotions are welcome,” says Ellen. She is happy with what she can still do with her life. She feels happy to help others with her initiative ‘Art after cancer’.
“I want to bring people who have cancer together”- – Ellen Selder-Berens
“I want to bring people who have cancer together. It touches everyone associated with it,” says Ellen. She offers a listening ear but also helps cancer patients express their emotions through art. “We sell these works of art and the money goes to KWF Cancer Foundation.” After corona, Ellen also hopes to organize exhibitions to raise money for KWF.
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta, who also gives online INBURGERING classes.