Art Helps Suleika Through Cancer Battle
- Between Two Kingdoms author and partner of Jon Batiste, Suleika Jaouad, 33, is fighting cancer for a second time; she first battled the disease in her 20s.
- She recently shared how she is turning to art to help her cope with cancer.
- Many people find solace in turning to art during the cancer journey; it can be a helpful distraction as well as an emotional outlet.
In a post to Instagram, she writes, “I was so lucky to have an artist date with my beloved @behidadolic last week, who like me painted a bit as a kid but put it to the side. Behida picked it up again when she was going through breast cancer treatment a few years ago, creating some of the most stunning portraits I’ve ever seen…”
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Jaouad continues, “When I found out about my leukemia recurrence, Behida showed up with an easel, brushes, and tubes of watercolors and gave me a whole different way of creatively engaging with my circumstances. Now we’re dreaming of our joint art show and painting our way there…”
Suleika’s Cancer Battle
Jaouad first battled leukemia in her early 20s, and again today in her early 30s. Jaouad had a bone marrow transplant for treatment for her most recent bout of cancer. A bone marrow transplant is a treatment used for some cancers, like leukemia. It replaces bone marrow with healthy cells; it is also called a “stem cell transplant.”
Dr. Nina Shah, a SurvivorNet adviser and hematologist at the University of California San Francisco, explains in an earlier interview how to best understand leukemia. “One cell got really selfish and decided that it needed to take up all the resources of everybody else, and in doing so, took up space and energy from the rest of the body,” Dr. Shah says.
“In general having a blood cancer means that your bone marrow is not functioning correctly,” she explains. “And when your bone marrow doesn’t function correctly it means that you can have something happen to you like anemia. Or you can have low platelets, which makes it possible for you to bleed easily. Or your immune system is not functioning correctly.”
Speaking with Vogue magazine in an interview earlier this year, the Princeton University graduate said of her cancer, “I, today, am actually doing well. I believe I’m on day plus-32 post-transplant and I’ve been out of the hospital for almost exactly a week,” she tells the magazine. She says she learned her illness was back in November of last year.
She says, “It’s so incredibly rare, I think less than 1% of patients, according to my doctor, relapse 10 years after a bone marrow transplant. When my oncologist called me, she was in tears. Not just my world, but my partner’s world and my family’s world completely imploded. We had a weekend to pack up all of our things, to find temporary homes for our dogs, to find a borrowed apartment in New York City and for me to begin chemo.”
Art Through A Cancer Battle
Many people, like Jaouad, turn to the arts as an emotional outlet during cancer. Jaouad, as a writer, is likely well versed in the transformative power of the arts. Whether you’re a trained or professional artist or not, the arts can have a helpful effect during a cancer battle, or after cancer.
Some people who have lost loved ones to cancer, also find healing and solace in art. James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan, 68, for example, has been vocal about using art to help heal from the grief of losing both his first wife and eldest daughter to ovarian cancer.
While going through cancer, try to find small moments of joy – be it from writing, painting, singing, dancing, or playing with your dog. Having a positive outlook and an upbeat attitude can help the cancer battle.