Unheard Cancer Voices; a beautiful magazine

Wigwam recently came across 'The Cancer Hive' magazine - a wonderful project to capture some of the unheard voices of people with experiences of cancer. In this blog, Caroline Leek, editor of the magazine, shares how this project seeks to change the conversations around cancer, make it less of a taboo, but also support people who are living with it. Here's Caroline's blog:

Back in 2018, we designed a project called ‘Unheard cancer voices’ with the aim to collect diverse voices from people who have experienced cancer, and to translate their stories, thoughts, and comments into visual art. We wanted this artwork to be shared with others who were undergoing similar experiences to support them and make them feel less alone.

We exhibited the artwork at the TATE Modern Exchange in London and was surprised at the positive response from the wide audience who engaged with the work. People strongly identified with the visual metaphors, commenting on ‘how a picture can paint a thousand words’. We quickly realised that a magazine containing art and storytelling around the emotional wellbeing of those affected by cancer, would be a way of reaching a wider audience and providing a positive impact across the cancer community.

We set out with these objectives:

  • To produce a beautifully printed, high quality magazine that explored the mental and emotional impact of having cancer, and that enabled people to begin to change the conversations around the disease.

  • To have a focus on producing a collective voice by using storytelling and visual art. Using artists to translate people’s stories and experiences into visual narratives and metaphors.

  • To give every person regardless of background, ethnicity or gender, an opportunity to find their new identity as a person living with cancer, by providing the benefits of support groups in an accessible visual format.

When a person gets diagnosed with cancer - when cancer comes crashing into their lives - finding an anchor to hold on is key to keeping afloat whilst they try to make sense of their world is vital. We created The Cancer Hive to be a part of that anchor.

The Cancer Hive is a shared place where people hold each other’s hands, gently guiding them through traumatic times. Using art enables us to unpick the emotionally complex layers caused by the massive impact cancer has on a person’s life; it can also make the subject of cancer more accessible to understand.

There are currently four issues of The Cancer Hive available and each focus on different theme. Go and explore either the online digital version, or buy a printed copy.

Caroline Leek is the founder and director of Fruit Fly Collective, a multi award winning not for profit organisation that focuses on improving the public’s understanding of cancer as well as supporting individuals and their families affected by cancer.

@fruitflycollective (Instagram/Facebook)

@FruitflyC (Twitter)

Wigwam would like to thank Caroline Leek and the team who put together these magazines and particular thanks for the use of these wonderful images on our website.

Art has the ability to reach people in different ways and help make cancer more understandable. We think many people will find these beautiful magazines a help in their journeys with cancer. The latest issue is on Sex, Gender and Body Image, previous issues have looked at 'Self Identity', 'Taboo' and 'Advice' from others living with cancer.

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