Cancer patients, care providers take part in painting ‘Butterfly of Hope’

Art therapy supports healing, reflects focus on whole-person care.

As an oncologist, Joseph J. Maly, M.D., knows art therapy can help improve the lives of people dealing with a medical diagnosis such as cancer. At Norton Cancer Institute – Shelbyville, Dr. Maly recently joined with staff and patients to add his thumbprint to a colorful butterfly painting that represents hope.

The aim of this project, which is part of the national Lilly Oncology on Canvas campaign, is to give those touched by cancer a way to connect through art. During the week of Aug. 27, the project traveled to 11 locations throughout Norton Cancer Institute’s service area, including radiation centers and clinics in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and Southern Indiana.

“This was kind of like the paint-by-number kits we did as kids, but using your thumbprint instead of a brush,” said Gina Morrison, R.N., BSN, OCN, survivorship patient navigator, Norton Cancer Institute. “It was a great opportunity to introduce patients to art therapy and a fun way for our care teams to share in the experience.”

Resiliency through art therapy

Art therapy can help patients address specific challenges and improve their overall sense of well-being. It is an integrative therapy approach that combines visual arts with clinical elements of human development, psychology and mental health.

Norton Cancer Institute

Through Norton Cancer Institute, anyone affected by cancer can request art therapy services. Learn more or speak with a specialist

Call (502) 629-HOPE (4673)

Art-making can use a variety of media and approaches based on each person’s interests and abilities. For example, some patients might want to work with traditional fine arts resources, such as pencils, markers, paints and clay. Others might prefer a more craft-based approach that could include jewelry, fibers, printmaking or scrapbooking.

Research shows that art therapy can help reduce stress, improve pain management, and promote relaxation or a feeling of accomplishment. Over time, it can support a sense of empowerment and resiliency. It can help patients better understand and express their life experiences.

Norton Cancer Institute joined many major cancer centers around the nation in using art therapy as a therapeutic tool. Art therapy is just one part of the institute’s integrative medicine program that reflects a focus on whole patient care.

The Butterfly of Hope project wrapped up at two community events — the third annual Celebration of Courage on Sept. 7 and Bike to Beat Cancer on Sept. 8 — where hundreds of adults and children left their prints. The finished canvas will go on display at the new Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro, set to open this November.

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