Graffiti Art Has Helped Me Battle Cancer

By Kartikey Sharma:

I was waiting for the last day of exams, as it would be my painting day during my days in schools. I had kept a file where all my art works would be safe. But I had never had the slightest clue that art could be a career. Being a bright student made me even more distant from that thought. The disciplined, sincere and fast life I had in school suddenly stopped when i was diagnosed with cancer when I was in Class 12. Life had become so different because suddenly I didn’t have to study or play football or think of JEE. Finally, I could just sit at one place and had all the time in the world for myself. This was the first time I saw a change in myself as a person.

It was the first time I read something other than an NCERT text book and it was the first time I watched movies in a row. I started to think for real. I fought cancer quite bravely as my doctors said. I hadn’t discovered myself as an artist yet but the journey towards living life had started.


Life as it goes, I had to opt for engineering as I was unfortunately a bright student. But this time, when I got back to learning, I was a different person. I wanted to learn from life. I came to Pune to study, so I started by exploring the beauty of the city. I was very fascinated by riding, so I rode around till wherever I could take the bike. This was the first time I wasn’t worried about anything.

I noticed a huge empty wall in college, around 25 meters long and 14 feet tall. It was the time of our cultural festival, and I thought of painting the plain wall in the theme of the festival. Taking permission from my seniors and assembling a wall painting group wasn’t difficult. That was the first time I had painted a wall. This became a trend and we painted it every year under my supervision. It was my final year of college and representatives from RedBull saw me painting the wall. They decided to make a video of me doing it and I painted for 14 hours straight and we called it the RedBull wall. The video was put up online and I was being called a graffiti artist.


For the past six years I have been exploring myself as an artist. From painting a lot of walls to canvases, I have been quite successful in getting myself a good audience.

I have been fighting cancer for the past 8 months. It has been a very difficult journey so far. Cancer as a disease tests oneself both physically and mentally. The pain rises beyond the strength to bear and being confined in a room is mentally disturbing especially for someone who even when paints, paints in the open. The disease kept aggravating for around seven months in spite of strong chemotherapy sessions. To keep myself going, I started sketching in the hospital itself. I sketched whenever possible. Chemotherapy session or not, if my hands would work, I would sketch. After months in the hospital and finishing my sketch book completely, I finally could stay at home. I couldn’t resist and I finally started painting.

Art has given me a window to basically cry it out in the form of lines, colours and brush strokes. It is difficult to cry when you are the sole strength of your small family. I never cry in front of them. I would rather start painting. It excites me. It gives me immense satisfaction and something to look forward to.

We all know how expensive this treatment can get. My friend started a BitGiving campaign online. The requirement of a drug that we need to import from Germany makes this campaign even more important for me as it is extremely expensive.

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