Art by the Big Blue Chair, CancerCare Manitoba

CancerCare Manitoba – Art by the Big Blue Chair

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This new program funded through a grant to Artists in Healthcare from the Manitoba Arts Council began Aug 20th.

“Thanks to Lulu from Poco beads for donating beads and kits to the patients at Cancercare Manitoba and St. Boniface Hospital programs!”

I asked our artist Kate Black, if she had any stories for our board, to help us get a feel for how the new art at bedside program was going and received the following:

Of course I have stories!

One patient started drawing again for the first time in 40 years. She likes to draw people and she is already a repeat customer. She decided to teach me how to draw! So she is guiding me through the drawing process and then I try. She snatches away the pencil and erases what I have done and then does it herself as I have done it incorrectly!. She repeats this process then hands me the drawing and tells me my assignment is to colour it. She searches for me to show me her latest projects now.

I have had patients hunt me down and want to do the program.

I have had a patient request on the weekend I was working to use the art cart.

I have been filmed and am in someone’s treatment journey book.

I have had a nurse tell how calm and focused patients became; “She drew for the entire 4 hours I was there and she had an hour to go after that. She is normally a very anxious and yes, needy lady, but was drawing a turtle as a personal symbol from a book she was studying.”

It has been easier to connect to some of my native patients. Art is a universal language.

One lady had only 15 minutes left and so I suggested a short project. I arrived towards the end of her treatment with her frantically trying to finish and announcing she had changed her mind she wanted to stay longer! This was fun! Her friend was laughing at her.

Another lady was making a “love” card for her nurse but the card became so precious to her she was going to save it for her daughter.

One fellow wanted to see the collage material for the poetry collage then wrote a poem and prose about it. It was rather deep stuff as he is a minister with a wicked wit. Words are his canvas and he was able to show them off. I have a copy.

It truly increases communication. The nurses beam at a happier patient and express amazement at this talent they were unaware of. Patients bloom under the compliments. I circulate and check in at regular intervals, change water, express admiration and interest and encouragement.

I am just as tired if not more from the hours being the artist in residence as a working nurse there.

A thought hit me how this program was more needed than I anticipated. If these people need this creative outlook so much why on earth do they not plan to do something? Bring it along.

The effort of course to just get there at the right time is too encompassing. After many cycles many cannot say how long they are there for. They get the same treatment in the same amount of time. The effort is too large for them. So this is a wonderful thing for the patient.