Kupuna Life: Free class ties cancer survivors together through art

Kupuna Life

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Art takes as many forms as artists, but these art students have two things in common.

They’re all–as many as 30 of them–in the ‘Healing Through Art’ class through the Queen’s Medical Center, and they’ve all been touched by cancer.

“Jocelyn, our instructor, is also a cancer survivor and a nurse. So she’s been able to share a lot of medical information that she can recommend to the artist to explore with her physician,” said art student and retired social worker Mary Yoshino.

Mary Yoshino does not have cancer but she spent years helping cancer patients cope. She was a social worker at Queen’s for about 25 years. She helped get a grant for this art program about seven years ago. She had walked many patients, even reluctant ones, to class.

“Once they meet Jocelyn, she’s just so incredible–she could just take over from there. And we would tag-team a lot like that,” said Yoshino.

Mary retired five years ago, but all that’s changed is that she now has time to actually take the class. She has earned her student status.

But Mary remains an unofficial, and probably forever advocate and volunteer for the class.

“It just makes you feel good to help someone who is struggling with cancer to be able to find joy and to find purpose,” said Yoshino. “They always tell me it’s the best thing that’s happened to them.”

The COVID pandemic has forced the class online two hours every Tuesday.

“You know, for kupunas, we are getting some technology training,” said art student Pauline.

Queen’s and donations now fund the free class. Cancer patients who are interested can go to the Queen’s website.

“Everyone that comes just finds their inner strength and beauty, it’s been an amazing journey,” said Yoshino.

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