Arts in Medicine

arts in medicine 2014No patient looks forward to the rigors of chemotherapy, but at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center, treatment may be a little less stressful, thanks to a popular collaborative program sponsored by the Huntington Museum of Art.

The Arts in Medicine program has created more than simple works of art. It has strengthened lasting relationships between staff, patients and teachers from the Huntington Museum of Art. The program is so popular that some patients request treatment on Fridays so they can participate.

"When cancer patients work through an art activity, they experience success and they feel pride in what they accomplish," said Katherine Cox, Director of Education for the Huntington Museum of Art. "While the circumstances of their disease often causes them to feel powerless, focusing on something positive and using their hands and minds to create an art project helps them feel empowered."

arts in medicine 2013"For our patients, Arts in Medicine has been an opportunity to express their creativity while positively distracting them from their fight against their cancer," said Chad Schaeffer, FACHE, Executive Director of the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. "This program has been an inspiring addition to our treatment services. It has grown into a therapy all its own that helps us treat the whole patient in mind and body."

The program and the relationship developed under former museum director Margaret Mary Layne, who said, "Being able to serve patients in our community with an effective arts program is very satisfactory to me. Our community is a strong center for medical care for the entire Tri-State region of West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, so we feel we are truly making a positive impact on the health of our citizens."

And the art teachers get to experience that impact as well.

"When I sat down to work with a male patient, the first man to participate in the program, I didn't expect him to respond the way he did," said Shelby Spence, an Arts in Medicine teacher. "I had brought materials to make colorful bracelets. Although his girlfriend doubted he would participate, he did and worked through some struggles until he finished his own bracelet. You could see that he was very proud of what he accomplished and he thanked me many times before we said goodbye."

For more information about the Arts in Medicine program at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center, please call 304.399.6500.