If you are dealing with a life threatening condition on a daily basis some days you may need a distraction from reality. As Nancy Naeve Brown tells us, through a Lance Armstrong Grant, the Avera Cancer Institute can now offer a creative break for patients going through treatment.
Winnie Baker from Brookings and her husband Phil have been coming to Sioux Falls to the Avera Cancer Institute every week for 4 years. Winnie has MDS, a bone marrow disorder, and she gets IV medication. This year Winnie's treatment in the infusion suites has turned a creative corner with the addition of the Artist-in-Residence program.
Sioux Falls artist Jo Vander Woude gladly accepted the position after the Avera Cancer Institute was awarded a grant from the Lance Armstrong LIVEstrong Foundation to further their arts-in-healing program for patients.
Jo says, "I knew it would be life changing and it has been. I just feel like I'm in the right place at the right time."
Jo has seen first hand how doing art projects while undergoing treatment helps patients relieve anxiety, depression and as Winnie describes it, exercises creativity muscles that have been dormant for a while.
Winnie says, "The program makes you relax and you get into the project. She challenges you. I didn't think I had any artistic talent and she said oh yes you do. It helps you relax. My blood pressure comes down and I look forward to doing all the projects."
The art work doesn't stop with drawings and paintings. They also make jewelry. They use a special alcohol paint glue on a bead, attach a rope and it's a necklace. The best part is it started as a domino."
Jo says, "I work with these patients who are dealing with life threatening conditions and their attitude and their courage as they face everyday. My problems really fall into perspective. It's given me appreciation for life."
And what is life without the arts? Winnie hopes she never has to know.
A lot of patients have said they now actually look forward to their chemo therapy now because they get to create a little piece of art and even better, create a new memory.