Ann McKay Thompson is a breast cancer survivor and member of the patient focus group for the new Avera Cancer Institute.
Cancer survivors will tell you they are bombarded with chaos when they are diagnosed. When John Cheever wrote, "Art is the triumph over chaos", those cancer patients can relate. As Nancy Naeve Brown tells us that's why the new Avera Cancer Institute has incorporated so much art in the new 5 story building.
Ann McKay Thompson was part of Avera McKennan's patient focus group who offered input on what would fill the walls and halls of the Prairie Center home to the new Avera Cancer Institute. As a breast cancer survivor she understands the importance of art therapy in the healing process.
Ann says, "Cancer patients live on hope. That a big job to do when you have to treat the whole body, mind, spirit and anything that will help the spirit stay up there is what everybody said they needed."
Ann said the group was also adamant the art be colorful, pleasing to the eye and soul and represent life and being alive. Nothing abstract, no falling leaves, no dying trees.
Art Therapist Carol Rogers says, "When you are looking at visual art on the wall it certainly helps with the patient's perception of the place, it alleviates stress, calms people, lowers blood pressure. It gives them a healing and soothing environment to be around."
You'll find 60 pieces of art throughout the Prairie Center, but some may say the biggest piece of art is the building itself.
Ann says, "The art piece of the building was designed for the days when someone needs solitude. It isn't the easiest thing to go through, sometimes you get bad news like it's too late or you will need to do a lot of work and you need to do some contemplation and there is a beautiful area for that. The spirit is what can help people get through a lot of this."
Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable. George Bernard Shaw wrote it, and Ann McKay Thompson truly believes it especially when that reality involves cancer.
Sixteen artists were commissioned and you don't have to be a patient to see the works of art. You are welcome to stroll through the Praire Center to see them.