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People often ask about my inspirations and how I developed @the14thfactory. This is my story...
I wouldn't say I was lucky to have survived, I worked hard to do so but I felt, at the time, unlucky for having got cancer. Why me? I thought I wasn't such a bad person and was on the side of good.
I'm at peace with it now though and grateful for the insights it has provided. If I meet anyone dealing with loss or pain, I can relate and empathize because of my direct experience with illness, as well as tragedy.
Direct experience can be very powerful if you are open to share and communicate. And I don't mean be a bullshit motivational speaker, just see someone alone at a bar and ask if they are ok. I have no plans to write a self-help book! I'm still trying to be a better human myself.
But ever since then, people have asked for help with their own, or someone close to them, illness or loss and I have been able to serve and support many with my experience, knowledge, shoulder to cry on, connections to resources. It's been one of the highlights of my life to be able to offer help to a stranger in real struggle because I had that awful experience. I was also able to level up the concept through my work with charity, especially the Hong Kong Cancer Fund. Though not all such interactions were successful, there have been some heartbreaking losses. RIP Colette, Antonio, my uncle Dan and the best man I ever knew, Justin Poon.
It took me years to recover, for sure I had PTSD and I tried to put on a brave face and I wish I had asked for psychological help. So many people had been so generous to me, I didn't want to bother anyone with my mental health problems. But I slowly got better and it all seems like a distant memory now.
It of course changed my perspective and my approach to art. I gave up trying to please my audience, who often want you to maintain the same style, and just painted for me, delving into abstraction and work outside of painting.
The first couple of years post-treatment were very fragile and I honestly thought it would come back and kill me so in 2010 I decided to throw my all into one massive potential, final project. A huge immersive experience called 'Hope and Glory'.
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