Nutrition 365 Blog
Art Therapy Leads To Emotional Wellness
9/25/2009 8:15:36 AM

When I was a kid and I watched the Miss America pageant on TV, I always thought to myself …. I wonder if anyone has ever played basketball as their talent? Growing up, throwing an orange ball through a hoop was my “talent”.


I admire anyone who can draw a beautiful picture, sing on key or dance gracefully. (I broke my foot doing a ballet leap in my basement and I never really believed my Mom when she said, “Oh it’s beautiful!” as she admired my clay sculpture from 6th grade art class!)


Since then, I just accepted that some people are born with artistic talent and some aren’t. I’ve been living in that black and white world for years now.


Leave it to cancer survivors to paint a whole new picture for me!


Wellness comes to us in all forms: physical, emotional and spiritual. Miles Perret Cancer Services embraces all of these and creates programs to help foster the well-being of cancer survivors in Acadiana.


Last Saturday I found myself in an awkward spot: an art workshop at Miles Perret Cancer Services. Don’t get me wrong, I love the “idea” of a blank canvas and a palette of beautiful colors.


As our cancer survivors filed in, I wondered, have they taken an art class before?   


The teacher told them to make a mark on their clean, linen canvas --- and off they went. One woman started with a sweeping bright orange brush stroke, another had a tiny black dot the size of a pencil eraser.


When I walked around taking pictures, I stopped at Deanna Thomas’ painting. She had bold blue covering the top half of her canvas.


“I don’t know what to do,” she told me, a little tentative about her own talent. We laughed about the unknown of how it would look when it was finished.


There are always a lot of unknowns for people with cancer. Around that table sat a young woman being treated for leukemia, a mother with burns up her neck from radiation and a nurse who had lost her best friend.


They laughed. They encouraged each other. They shared stories.


Research shows that art therapy has a positive impact on cancer survivors. A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that art therapy reduces symptoms like depression and anxiety in cancer patients.


As part of this workshop, our survivors shared their thoughts about our time together.


Here’s what Judy Babineaux said:


“I am a 12 year survivor, but have only realized since this year that I am strong. Working a lot of the programs offered at MPCS I have gained immeasurable self worth. To me my art says FOREVER GRATEFUL.”


I feel so grateful too!


I spent a day surrounded by bold, beautiful people, who inspired me to pick up a paintbrush and just “go for it”.   




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