The Greater Good

Our beautiful silk hoop and origami mural at Life With Cancer

Patients and their family members often create art and then leave it in the art room to be completed or displayed. Pieces of origami and an assortment of silk hoops wait to be strung with beads to create a hanging art piece or a mobile. Sometimes interest in one technique or medium is shared by many kids and parents at the same time. This is often the case with both folding origami and painting on silk. When this happens a variety of artists often agree to combine their pieces to create a larger group art piece. Unlike the individual art pieces that reflect each artist personally, these group pieces represent the parts of their lives that they share; specifically the common bond of creating while waiting during weekly visits to the clinic for treatment. These group pieces become a beautiful representation of the collective group and they reflect the combined efforts and inspiration of the all the children, teens and parents who contribute pieces. The art making process helps to provide a different spin on this weekly experience. When the individual pieces join together they reflect the connection, cohesion and support that the children and parents provide to each other during this time. It is moving and beautiful, and it is an honor to witness.

The final piece becomes a legacy of those connections and experiences as well and a means to inspire others to create and explore.

"It is moving and beautiful, and an honor to witness."

Letting the Art Shine In

The Tracy’s Kids program at Inova Life with Cancer (LWC) is in Fairfax, VA and looks a little different than the other Tracy’s Kids programs. The outpatient clinic where patients come weekly for treatment is separate from Inova’s Hospital for Children at Fairfax Hospital, where children and teens are admitted when hospitalization is necessary. What is similar is that patients have access to art therapy in the outpatient clinic and in the hospital. However, there is another facet to this program that I also find very rewarding, which are the programs offered to families at the Life with Cancer Family Center where anyone impacted by cancer can access services. Through a grant from Tracy’s Kids, individual and group art therapy support is available to any child or teen impacted by cancer, whether they are in treatment or have a family member with cancer.

When patients and families create art at the clinic they often want to hang it on the walls of the art room. Everyone who comes there for the first time is impacted by the breadth and power of this work. It seemed important to share the art with many other people who are touched by cancer and would truly appreciate it. With the permission of the patients, siblings and parents this amazing art work was displayed in an art show at the LWC Family Center during July and August. This show was moving and powerful. The art contained so much color, energy and expression. It touched the hearts of all those who saw it, which I was told over and over again. Creating art is a healing process and it seems it also has a healing quality when it is viewed. Many thanks to all the kids, teens and parents that participated in this Tracy’s Kids program and Let Their Art Shine In at the LWC Family Center!