Visualizing the Journey

Creative Reflection by Breast Cancer Patients
Friday, July 27, 2018 - 8:30am

One day last month, patients and loved ones in the waiting room of Roswell Park’s Breast Center dipped their fingertips into bright paints and left their unique prints on a canvas stamped with the outline of a butterfly. Numbers on the canvas suggested the colors to be used in each section of the wings, but the artists had their own ideas. In some areas the colors run together; in others, hearts and dots break up a sea of white. The finished piece is an unpredictable mixture of shapes and hues, dark and bright, both ominous and beautiful.

Now displayed in The Women's Resource Center at Roswell Park (formerly the Breast & GYN Resource Center), the butterfly was inspired by Lilly Oncology On Canvas® (LOOC), a program introduced recently at Roswell Park, explains Center Coordinator Angela Braun. The painting took shape when artists from Lilly Oncology invited the Breast Center group to enjoy “coffee and coloring," providing the materials and suggestions for getting started.

Never miss another Cancer Talk blog!
Sign up to receive our monthly Cancer Talk e-newsletter.

Sign up!

Sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceuticals in partnership with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and the Cancer Support Community, LOOC began 14 years ago as an art competition that encouraged cancer patients to express themselves through writing, photography, drawing and painting. It showcases the winners' works in both an online gallery and the magazine Expressions, which is given to patients who visit The Women's Resource Center.

No longer a competition, today LOOC continues as a way of promoting healing through art. Right now the walls of the Resource Center display selected works by the competition winners, but as the program grows, Braun hopes to replace them with pieces by Roswell Park patients and their loved ones. The butterfly painting was a group project, she adds, but “the goal is that later on they’ll be able to create their own individual poems and pictures and paintings.”

Visitors have an “amazing” response to the Resource Center gallery, she says. “When they find out these works were created by survivors, and this is what their journey meant to them, it’s really overwhelming.”

Artists from Lilly Oncology on Canvas will visit the waiting room of the Breast Center Monday, August 20, at 10 a.m. to involve patients and visitors in a new art project. Both the Breast Center and The Women's Resource Center are located on the first floor of the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center.