News / Science & Technology

Artful Therapy Helps Kids Cope with Cancer

Artful Therapy Helps Kids Cope with Canceri
|| 0:00:00
X
Susan Logue
October 31, 2012 2:02 PM
A diagnosis of cancer can be devastating, especially when the patient is a child. But art therapy is making it easier for some patients who go to Georgetown Hospital’s Lombardi Cancer Center for treatment. VOA's Susan Logue reports.

Artful Therapy Helps Kids Cope with Cancer

Susan Logue
A diagnosis of cancer can be devastating, especially when the patient is a child. 

But art therapy is making it easier for some patients who go to Georgetown Hospital’s Lombardi Cancer Center for treatment. 

Calming influence

Alesia Allen, 10, is all smiles, even as she helps the nurse draw a syringe of her blood.

Although she has finished her chemotherapy, she returns to Georgetown Hospital for regular check-ups. She’s been coming here ever since arriving in the United States from Russia earlier this year.

“I like this place,” Alesia says. She enjoys drawing, painting and playing a fashion design game on an iPad.

The blood draw is almost an afterthought for Alesia now, but her father, Larry Allen, says she was scared the first time she came here, based on her hospital experience in Russia.

“Medically it was OK, but in every other aspect it wasn’t,” he says.

According to Allen, Alesia was strapped into a bed during her treatments in Russia and was told the cancer was her fault.

“The first time we walked in here, six months ago, the art therapy is what kept her calm," Allen remembers. "Even when she looked like she was going to have a meltdown, Tracy helped her keep it together.”

Tracy's Kids

Tracy Councill is the art therapist who works with Alesia and other kids like her. She founded Tracy’s Kids at Georgetown Hospital 20 years ago.  Since then, the pediatric art therapy program has been replicated at three other hospitals in the Washington area, as well as one in Texas.

“Just engaging in the art process can be very grounding and relaxing in a really scary place,” Councill says.

The clinic doesn’t look scary. It was designed so art would be the first thing patients see when they enter. There are paintings, drawings and craft projects everywhere.  Even the ceiling tiles are covered with pictures.

Most of the art is bright and cheerful, but there are darker works.

“We get a lot of monsters,” Councill says. She believes they are symbolic of the anger young cancer patients experience.  “A lot of times when patients are going through treatment, they really want to be good. They know their parents are sad, and they are causing everybody a lot of trouble. The art process opens them up and gives them an avenue where they can put their darker feelings and anger, because they have a lot to be angry about.”

No one is depicting monsters today. While he receives a transfusion for aplastic anemia, Akele Carpentier creates a model of an amusement park out of cardboard and modeling clay.

He comes here twice a week to get transfusions through the port in his chest. “It’s hard not to remember that I have a port in my chest.”

But designing a fantasy helps, Councill says.

“When a kid does a process like that, I think of it actually as they are creating a little world.  It’s a way of using their imagination to take them outside of the hospital and put them in another place.”

Lasting impact

Dr. Aziza Shad, who heads Georgetown’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program, can’t imagine caring for her patients without the art therapy program.

“I think children who are emotionally comfortable with their diagnosis and who have emotional support stay fewer days in the hospital. I honestly truly believe that,” she says. “And I think more importantly when they are done with treatment for cancer, they tend to adjust better.”

Whether that's true or not, it's clear that art therapy has improved these patients’ quality of life, by helping them cope with their disease and its treatment.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid