31 October 2016, Event
Life took a turn for the worst when happy-go-lucky and out-going art student Muhammad Khairul Ikhwan, 23, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer with a prognosis of two months, in September 2015. He was subsequently referred to Star PALS, a paediatric palliative care programme under HCA Hospice Care, when Nurse Nicole Peng discovered his talent as an artist.
“I simply wish that he can do something that he really wants to do in this lifetime. If Star PALS can help to make his dream come true, why not?’ says Nicole, Khairul’s primary home care nurse.
The effects of Khairul’s cancer caused a whirlwind of changes in his life. His vision and hearing, both of which are important “tools” for him as an artist, were disrupted. Yet he neither feels defeated nor dissuaded. Khairul has managed to outlive his prognosis and has fulfilled his bucket list of hosting a solo art exhibition.
The flamboyant life he once led has given way to one that is constrained by regular medical reviews and chemotherapy treatments. Through it all, Khairul remains positive and upbeat.
Khairul called his art exhibition HOPE – simply and powerfully titled. The exhibition follows his artistic journey of his battle with cancer, portraying how each individual ruminates and reflects on the idea of hope differently, casting wider interpretations on the very essence of life and living.
On the 21st April 2016, Khairul finally saw his wish come true.
We were honoured to have Mr Ong Ye Kung, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), gracing the evening’s event. It started with a walk through the corridor depicting the mind and heart of the artist himself. Hanging from its walls are 87 pieces of original artwork created by Khairul and seven fellow artists who have followed him on this artistic journey mapping out his ongoing battle with cancer.
The piece enclosed in a display case caught the most attention. It showed a vibrant multilayered pyramid of cloths with a pair of sparkling shoes seated on the top – symbolizing the clothes that Khairul fashionably dons on daily.
The walk continues with a stunning array of artworks revealing Khairul’s innermost thoughts and feelings, expressing different phases, thoughts and views of freedom, beauty and peace amidst the fear he has to go through. Beneath the aesthetics and beauty of Khairul’s designs lie a simple individual pressing on to encourage his loved ones, friends and fans alike of the humanity and hope he discovered on the journey.
“Somewhere around the world lives another soul who suffers the same pain as you do but that soul wishes to continue to live on in this world, because they believe it is not their time to leave yet and also because they desire to share and create many more memories for themselves. It’s because of these souls that I press on”.
Khairul’s message is clear, laid bare, raw to the touch and tender yet poignant and influential – to fill himself and ourselves with light and Hope, despite the darkness of fear and pain and doubt. Despite all that he has lost, he has gained an acutely heightened sense of clarity, vision and purpose. He continues to dream and it is this never-ending dream that will persist and shine and propel him out of his sickness, and send his ideas, his thoughts and feelings flying towards the dawns of countless tomorrows.
The event was a success and everyone went home with a new understanding of hope, a lasting gift, his ever-growing legacy – HOPE in all circumstances.
Khairul’s life exemplifies HCA Hospice Care’s aims to provide the best quality of life for patients with life limiting illnesses by delivering professional palliative care and providing compassionate support to their families. Like us on Facebook for the event photos or visit www.hca.org.sg to find out more!