Pier Shilliday found small lumps under her arm and on her bikini line during her husband’s 40th birthday celebrations and was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on 30 October 2021.
On 16 November 2021 Pier started her treatment which included chemotherapy and radiation. Pier says “chemo was tough” but her biggest concern was explaining the diagnosis to her 5-year-old daughter and how she would react when “mummy lost her hair”. Children are resilient and Pier and her husband tried to include April as much as possible in the most age-appropriate way to make it less “scary” – when her husband shaved her hair, April was part of it.
Pier’s positivity got her through the tough days and as life slowed down so that she could focus on her health, Pier pursued art. It was a fun activity to do with her daughter and her creativity flourished. Pier found solace in art and it was the beginning of her journey as an artist.
When Pier visited Majlis Al Amal, she did so with some hesitation. “I am in tears thinking about that first day I walked into Majlis Al Amal, how I felt its immediate calmness, and the warm welcome I received from everyone who was there that day. Since then, it has become my sanctuary, where I’ve met wonderful, positive women, and attended various activities, some of which I would never have contemplated before being diagnosed. I even encapsulated its spirit by doing a painting of the pink couch, where I have seen women consoling each other, inspiring each other, organising activities and outings with each other, even having meals or naps! Majlis Al Amal is truly a place to escape and be with women who have been through a similar journey to yourself. And that is a big comfort.”
Pier is the artist behind ‘The Pink Couch’ a beautiful tribute to Majlis Al Amal and the community of cancer warriors that have been a shoulder to lean on when life with cancer gets too much to bear. Pier recently had the honour of sharing her art notebook with Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), during her visit to the cancer drop-in centre. “It was an unforgettable experience, I never imagined that my cancer journey would lead me to this incredible moment” Pier exclaimed.
If you are a cancer patient or survivor, or know anyone that is, please join the Majlis Al Amal Facebook Group to connect with an inspiring community of hope.