As we look at her, we feel her inquisitiveness and curiosity in her eyes as she looks out at us.
She is playful and happy, surrounded by her favourite toys, ready for the adventures of a new day.
However, Nastka’s happiness shields the viewer from the reality of her story.
Unfortunately, she had been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that forms in a child’s nerve tissue, mostly affecting babies and young children.
Nastka was diagnosed when she was one, and her portrait was painted soon after.
She has been through many rounds of gruelling chemotherapy but has borne her illness cheerfully with the help and unwavering support of her brave parents.
You may wonder why I have painted such a sensitive subject. Well, she is my niece and until Nastka’s diagnosis, I had never heard of this childhood cancer. Then I discovered:
“It develops from specialised nerve cells (Neuroblasts) left behind from a baby’s development in the womb.
Neuroblastoma most commonly occurs in one of the adrenal glands situated above the kidneys, or in the nerve tissue that runs alongside the spinal cord in the neck, chest, tummy or pelvis.
It can spread to other organs such as the bone marrow, bone, lymph nodes, liver, and skin.
It affects around 100 children each year in the UK and is most common in children under the age of 5” (NHS.UK)
The reason I have painted Nastka is to raise awareness of this rare childhood cancer. I would like to raise another people’s awareness too.