“YOU have cancer,” is a disclosure no person wants to hear. It’s heart wrenching, to say the least.

There is a period for coping. Denial, anger, fear, self-pity, helplessness. It’s difficult to tell how one can go through these stages before acceptance settles in.

But there are extraordinary individuals who can meet this kind of news head on, accepted the fact and bravely challenge the odds. Vanessa Ong is one of them. The moment she received her diagnosis in August of 2017, she went on a news blast to family and friends voicing her plan: “I have been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and I will fight this for my kids and family.” And fight, she did.

People close to Vanessa rallied behind her like any good support group would. Prayer cannot be discounted; she received an outpouring of it. How much Divine intervention transpired, no one knows, but one thing is for sure, she is looking good.

Throughout her treatment she keeps her communication line open. Over lunch dates with friends to catch up and she would share updates on her well-being, medical check-ups and treatments. At home, she has devised a wellness routine that includes bonding time with husband and daughters, exercising, cooking and baking healthy meals, and engage in different forms of art.

Art is pure joy for Vanessa. Ikebana, tablescaping and painting are relaxing. She says that creating something beautiful is fulfilling. While she has joined group exhibitions in Ikebana and watercolor paintings, she still had to do a solo exhibit. It is every artist’s dream to have one.

It was after a recent routine check-up that prompted Vanessa to mount the solo exhibit she longed for. She had the body of work at hand. She rang her friends, told them her plan and a couple for weeks later, she launched her first solo exhibit in a dreamy setting — a pre-war colonial home converted into a restaurant. She chose the most appropriate day for this significant event — Easter Sunday, a day that symbolizes the celebration of life.

My Healing Journey is a narrative on how Vanessa is fighting cancer. She draws out from memory cheerful chapters on travel, hobbies, nature and lets the tip of the brush fill the blank canvasses with colorful images. Each piece is a story of rejoicing and personal triumph.

Opening day was intimate, as the current circumstances dictate. This much, the rest of her family and friends would understand. She wrote in a post, “A simple affair with just family and the core group of friends who helped us make this exhibit successful in our goal to help our little cancer warriors at the House of Hope.”

Congratulations, Vanessa! This is the first of your many solo art exhibitions.

My Healing Journey Art Exhibit runs until April 15 at the Bondi & Bourke Restaurant along Legaspi Street.

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