A budding artist - Leila Chen | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
 In Inspiring Stories

Four-year-old Leila held a newly completed drawing up to the sky as the game played along on the TV behind her. Leila’s father, Lei, turned to her, confused, and asked, “Leila why are you doing this?”

Leila looked at her father and said, “Mummy’s up there so now she can see what I made.”

Joyce Chen was a mother, wife and patient at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse who sadly passed away in 2018 from lung cancer. Before her passing, Joyce, Leila and Lei found a special community in Chris O’Brien Lifehouse’s Arterie program. Specifically designed to provide a therapeutic, creative and social outlet for participants, the art program helps to ease side effects of cancer and its treatment.

Joyce was trained as an internal architect, but had always held a passion for art. In her time being treated at Lifehouse, she became an active member in Arterie, reigniting the passion she had from a very early age. “It took quite a bit of courage for Joyce to finally call herself an artist,” her husband, Lei, says. “Spending time with members of Arterie like Deb and the volunteer manager Lorainne really gave her that confidence.” For Joyce, Arterie became a place where she could distract herself from the treatment she was receiving and finally spend time doing what she loved.

Their daughter, Leila, still likes to return to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to visit those she met while her mother was receiving treatment. She was able to use this artistic outlet fostered at Arterie to create pieces that she used to say good bye to her mother.

Lei and Leila have found the support from Arterie integral to being able to get through such a difficult time. “To be supported and surrounded by community has been really important for Leila and myself. For me Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is an environment where we can talk about what has happened. It’s our community and our space to do it.”

In honour of Joyce and her passion for art, Lei supported our artist-in-residence Nicole Hutton in late 2018.

You can support initiatives like the Arterie program, contact our development team at development.office@lh.org.au to learn more.

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