The Healing Power Of Art: The Beckstrand Cancer Foundation Art Therapy Program

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Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach patient, Cindy Quimbayo, admires cancer patients’ artwork. The artwork shows patients’ emotional journey through the battle against cancer, from diagnosis to recovery.

“Cancer Patients Journeys Through Their Battle Against Cancer”

The Orange County based, Beckstrand Cancer Foundation, hosted a special Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach Hematology/Oncology Patient Art Show, where the artistic endeavors of the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center (JJCCC) patients at Miller Children’s were on display. Patients, family members and hospital care teams gathered to celebrate more than 40 of JJCCC’s artists and their unique artwork. Some family members who attended saw artwork from their son or daughter who passed and were able to take it home with them and cherish that captured moment forever.

“This was a special night where families were able to see cancer patients’ journey through their artwork and how art has played a role in their healing and recovery process,” says Carrie Adcock Cottone, Art Therapy Specialist, JJCCC, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach. “Creating art provides patients a sense of control in an often uncontrollable environment. They are able to choose the art materials and what they like to create. By making drawings and paintings or playing with clay, the young patients get to know themselves better and repair a sense of self that has been damaged by the diagnosis and the treatment.”

Research has shown that cancer patients experience many psychosocial and psychological stressors when dealing with the disease and its difficult treatment. Art is a powerful tool that can identify these stressors, empower the young patient in the fight against cancer and offer a complimentary treatment method to relieve symptoms and gain insights into thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Much of the artwork shows patients’ emotional journey through the battle against cancer, from their feelings at diagnosis through remission. Art therapy is a creative outlet for the patient to communicate their emotions non-verbally in a safe, non-threatening environment. Art therapy allows patients to capture a moment in time, and describe their feelings of fear and hope.

The Art Therapy Program at JJCCC is focused on inpatient hematology/oncology patients. Individual and group art therapy sessions are provided at bedside and in the playroom. Thanks to the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation, the Art Therapy Program will be expanding to help children in the outpatient setting as well.

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