Art therapy at St Elizabeth Hospice helps Framlingham cancer patient David Brook discover new passion

David Brook running an art class at St Elizabeth Hospice. Picture: ST ELIZABETH HOSPICE

David Brook running an art class at St Elizabeth Hospice. Picture: ST ELIZABETH HOSPICE - Credit: Archant

A former Suffolk teacher who had to give up his job after being diagnosed with cancer is stepping back into the role that he enjoyed for 31 years by sharing his skills with fellow hospice patients.

David Brook, from Framlingham, had to take early retirement from his position at a primary school in the county after discovering a tumour, measuring 15cm long and weighing 6lb, in his stomach last year.

The 53-year-old is supported by St Elizabeth Hospice and as a result has developed a new passion for art and photography by attending sessions with the charity’s art therapist.

Mr Brook said: “We meet regularly and he encourages me to try different materials. I have even made pictures using wool – an incredibly therapeutic experience.

“It is not about producing the perfect picture though, but more about the process and emotions in their production.

“During my stay in hospital and the many subsequent visits, I took a sketch pad with me. I just started drawing. I sometimes drew in the middle of the night, completing five or six sketches.

“I soon discovered that it really is a form of self-expression for me, especially when my emotions are all over the place.

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“Far from being that place where you go to die, St Elizabeth Hospice enables you to live, very often in your own home, as I do – to express your thoughts, fears, anxieties.

“I no longer feel isolated.

“It is a place prepared to try anything to see if it will help. They allow you to explore ideas to see what works for you.

“It is a place, without which, I would never have found my artistic ‘voice’.

“I had no idea that the hospice is a place to offer such opportunities. I am determined to live and to do things which make a difference.”

Mr Brook currently has an art and photography exhibition on show at the hospice, and has begun leading some classes for other patients.

“It’s good to be back in the teacher role which has so long been a part of my life and being able to share with others what I have learnt,” he added.

Mark Millar, chief executive of St Elizabeth Hospice, said: “David’s experience with us is exactly what we, here at the hospice, are working to achieve.

“St Elizabeth Hospice is about helping people live life as fully and individually as possible.”

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