If you joined our Summer Soirée last month, you'll likely remember that we included a rock painting activity, or perhaps you participated in our recent Creative Legacy Projects event. These both serve as great examples of how you don't need to be a museum-worthy artist to enjoy the relaxation benefits of art. There are so many mediums to explore: painting, sketching, sculpting, photography, poetry, compositional writing, and or mixed-media collages. These are all ways to document your breast cancer journey or to process and release the emotions you are feeling.
A particularly enjoyable way to tap into your artistic side and connect with friends at the same time can be a paint night. Many venues (preferably outside with this Pandemic still raging), host these events where you can enjoy a cocktail (or mocktail!) while a professional artist leads you and your friends through a simple painting like a landscape or still-life. It's so fun to see how everyone's interpretation of the same image is a little different. And you end up with a keepsake of your evening out with friends!
Content From SBC
Writing can serve as a therapeutic and creative outlet. More specifically, journaling offers opportunities for expression and reflection and can help those going through a cancer diagnosis process the emotions and loss that come with the territory. Writing isn’t necessarily just for the patient either. It is a powerful tool that can be useful for families, caregivers, and children.
Upcoming Event: A Space for Expressive Writing with Thomas
September 27th | 6:00 - 7:30 pm EST | Virtual
Join us for a 90 minute writing workshop, led by the incredible Thomas Dooley. After reading a few poems, participants will be invited to reflect on, write, and share their own personal narratives in a supportive and safe space. Join Us.
Content Across The Web
“Art therapy uses creative activities to help people with any type of health condition work through challenging thoughts and feelings. Also called expressive arts therapy or creative arts therapy, it’s based on the philosophy that art can be a tool for emotional healing."
Some benefits of art therapy include:
decreased symptoms of distress
increased ability to cope with breast cancer
reduced signs of depression
improved quality of life
promoted positive body image
lowered rates of anxiety
As we wrote about in another recent Feature Friday, nature can be very beneficial emotionally and psychologically for those going through breast cancer treatment. However, this isn't always accessible to everyone. The Tree of Life Fulfillment workshop at UCLA's cancer center, combines imagery of trees with art therapy and mindfulness to help patients cope with cancer diagnoses. Participants both imagine themselves as a having the strength and groundedness of a tree, as well as draw the trees or forests they are visualizing. Read More.
A 2020 study examining the benefits of art therapy for patients undergoing chemotherapy for a variety of types of cancer found that "art therapy improved the emotional distress, depression, anxiety and pain among all cancer patients."
"Each art therapy session encouraged the patient to engage their creative side and employed consistent, standardized art therapy practices aimed to engage the mind, body, and spirit of the participant. Each participant was allowed full freedom of materials to work with, including supplies for painting, drawing, clay work, and collage construction. Sessions concluded with an art therapist-guided patient reflection on their own art." Read More.
A study from 2018 used Renaissance art to examine the prevalence of breast cancer in centuries past. "Raffaella Bianucci and Antonio Perciaccante, two co-authors of a new study published in the journal The Lancet: Oncology tell Maarten Rikken at ResearchGate that there's a perception that breast cancer is a modern disease. As the thinking goes, lifestyle, longevity and other factors have made the cancer much more prevalent in the industrial age. But recent research is showing that the disease was quite common all the way back to antiquity."
In "The Night" by Michele di Ridolfo (seen above), the woman's left breast is smaller than the right and her nipple is retracted, all signs of cancer. Other paintings, such as "The Allegory of Fortitude" by Maso da San Friano, show other symptoms of breast cancer, although experts say it is unlikely that the artists at the time knew what these deformations indicated, rather they just painted what they saw. Read More.