For many children and young adults, expressing their feelings through art is an important way to cope with the myriad challenges of cancer treatment. “Kaleidoscope: Turning Art into Healing” is a program offered by the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at MassGeneral Hospital for Children for patients and their siblings to share their stories through artistic representation.

Kaleidoscope participants have created paintings, drawings, 3-D art, poetry and photography. They also were asked to reflect on their work and how it related to their cancer experience. “The art and artists’ statements highlight the resilience of our patients,” said Kelsey Skerpan, art therapist for the Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program at the MGH. “Hopefully all who walk through the clinic and view the art will be able to carry with them the message to continue to fight, to hope and to feel connected knowing others are facing similar challenges”.

On Dec. 27, 2017, the final products were placed on exhibit in the Pediatric Oncology clinic on Yawkey 8B, where they will remain on display for the coming year. The artists, who attended the opening celebration with their families, were honored and recognized for their honesty, courage and willingness to share their stories and artistic contributions.

Elyssa Denault – a cancer survivor who completed treatment in 2017 for Hodgkin lymphoma – completed a piece entitled “Smile.” During the event, she spoke about the meaning of artistic expression during her chemotherapy treatment. “I am so thankful and honored to be a part of this Kaleidoscope Program,” she said. “Art took me away from what I came to clinic for. Without having it introduced to me here, I would have never thought it would be helpful.”

Elyse Levin-Russman, LICSW, clinical social worker in Pediatric Oncology and coordinator of the event, stressed the importance of celebrating the artists and the meaning of their work. “We asked if you would be willing to share your talents and messages with other children, young adults and families,” she said. “You responded in a way that we couldn’t have begun to imagine. Your reflections and insights remind us of your strengths and will serve as an inspiration for all of us who have been fortunate enough to care for you.”

Read more articles from the 01/12/18 Hotline issue.