Legacy art therapy program helps cancer fighters

Human Interest

Art therapists see the difference in people when they express themselves with art

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A cancer diagnosis is a trying time for both a patient and their families. There are often a lot of medical treatments involved in the healing process.

But the Legacy Cancer Institute is taking that a step further by offering an art therapy program that helps with emotional healing.

For Lisia Farley and Kristi Douglas, taking time each week to create works of art is a much-needed break from their daily fight with breast cancer.

Lisia Farley and Kristi Douglas use art therapy through a program at Legacy Cancer Institute to take a break from their breast cancer battles. (KOIN)

“When your world is upside down and crazy you really need a place to ground and that’s what I found here in this program,” Douglas said.

“Well, I went through two diagnoses of cancer about 10 years apart and the second one I had to have a full mastectomy, and I knew I had to do something to help process what I was going through,” Farley said.

The Legacy Cancer Institute recently added a second art therapist to its art therapy program, which offers a weekly studio format for patients and their families.

“It’s a support program,” art therapist Margaret Hartsook said. “A lot of times they come through and they’re treated for their body — chemo, radiation, that type of thing — And emotionally they’re sort of left grieving often with physical loss, time loss, job loss, financial loss a lot of emotional impact.”

Art therapist Blair Allen said she can see the difference in people when they start expressing their feelings through art.

“Art just moves us into the right hemisphere and gives us an opportunity to process in a different way,” Allen said.

“When I come here I get lost in the artwork and my neuropathy pain goes away, and I can actually start healing on a much deeper level,” Douglas said.

Art supplies for painting. (KOIN)

Some of Farley’s work will soon be on display in the lobby of the Legacy Cancer Healing Center, which dedicates the space to its budding artists.

The women say being part of this group is an amazing gift.

“This is a club you don’t want to be a member of, but once you’re there and knowing other people you’re there with and can do things on a variety of levels makes such a huge difference,” Farley said.

Find out more about Legacy support services

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