Thursday, December 6, 2012

Celebrating the Arts in Pediatric Oncology

MGHfC patients of the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Unit were awarded for their Kaleidoscope art.

Glitter, rhinestones and feathers in all colors of the rainbow scattered across tables as pediatric hematology-oncology patients created collage boards and art boxes at “Celebrating the Arts in Pediatric Oncology.” Nearly twenty patients and their families gathered November 12 for a night of crafts, music and art awards hosted by the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Unit at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

“Celebrating the Arts in Pediatric Oncology allowed us to honor and celebrate the children who contributed their art to beautify our clinic space,” says Elyse Levin-Russman, LICSW, MSW, clinical social worker at the Center for Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and the event organizer. “Through the children’s art, we were able to gain an understanding of their experience as they go through cancer and other intensive medical treatments. These programs also bring families together for shared support and provide a fun diversion for the kids.”

20-year-old MGHfC patient Kim Dippo shared her collage that she created through Kaleidoscope, a program that displays the artwork of pediatric patients and their siblings in the clinic. Magazine clippings of her favorite foods interspersed with inspirational phrases like “count your blessings” and “live life to the fullest” decorate the collage, displayed in the Yawkey 8 hallway.

“This program is so relaxing, and it takes my mind off of everything. Art and music definitely calm me down,” says Dippo, who has participated in Kaleidoscope two years in a row. “I especially like this event because I’m older and I get to see all of the younger, cute kids in the clinic.”

Providing a happy time for patients to “just be kids” is the mission of Our Space, Inc., a non-profit organization that helped create vibrant crafts during the MGHfC event. The program’s co-executive directors and founders Gail Erdos and Peggy Tryon, both breast cancer survivors, formed the program in 2010 as a way for kids to express themselves through healing art.

“Tonight’s event isn’t just for the kids – it’s for the parents and siblings, too. It brings the community together,” says Lee Ann Ross Berry, Business Manager of Our Space, Inc. “Everyone finds it relaxing and it’s a chance to forget about worries.”

My Story in Beads, a program that helps children document their journey through cancer treatment, was also featured during the evening. The children’s beaded lanyards were presented at the event, providing a visual display of the treatments they endured through what is often years of treatment.

After the crafts project, the children followed Lorrie Kubicek, MGHfC music therapist, into a circle to sing songs and play instruments. Kubicek cast a spell on the group, enticing some to play bongos with their feet and others to dance along with a Goldilocks and the Three Bears song. Finally, everyone joined together to applaud those who participated in the Kaleidoscope installation.

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