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UC Davis Medical Center

UC Davis Medical Center

Help support the healing arts

Note cards raise funds for child cancer therapy program

cancer art 1

Art therapy classes help child cancer patients deal with their emotions. Note cards featuring their art are now for sale to help raise funds for the art therapy program. The note cards come in packages of eight with envelopes for $10 each. Call (916) 734-0823.

UC Davis Cancer Center launched art therapy classes this year to help children use creativity to express the emotions of dealing with cancer. Printed note cards featuring artwork from participants in the first class are now for sale, with proceeds benefiting the center's Healing and Performing Arts Program.

"They meet other children who are going through the same thing, and it is a safe place to talk about the illness." 
— Elaine Bowers, registered art therapist

"Art is a process children are familiar with, which makes it perfect to use for therapy," said Elaine Bowers, the registered art therapist who leads the art therapy classes. "Children haven't developed the coping skills to help them through a family crisis. They tend to fill in the gaps with their own limited life experiences and knowledge. They often keep their feelings a secret and think they are the only ones going through the crisis.

"That's why the class is so important," Bowers said. "They meet other children who are going through the same thing, and it is a safe place to talk about the illness."

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Bowers developed a series of art lessons designed to carefully help children decipher the experience of cancer. Creating a worry doll gives children a special friend to share emotional pain. A drawing of the cancer monster and the weapon that destroys it gives a sense of control over the illness. A self-portrait "X-ray" shows what emotions look like and helps share feelings that are buried.

"It's eye-opening for the children — and their parents — to actually see what they know and think about cancer," said Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, director of the cancer center's Outreach Research and Education Program and principal investigator on the Children's Miracle Network grant that funds the program. "We started the course because we knew there was a need to support children in our community who are dealing with cancer. They are thrilled that their artwork will be shared with the community."

cancer art 2

The note cards come in packages of eight with envelopes for $10 each. To order a set or to sign up for the next art therapy class for children to be held in 2009, call (916) 734-0823.

The class is free-of-charge and held on the Sacramento campus of UC Davis. It is open to any child or teenager aged 5 through 16 who is dealing with cancer. Click here to read more about the classes 

Designated by the National Cancer Institute, UC Davis Cancer Center cares for 9,000 adults and children each year from throughout the Central Valley and inland Northern California. The center's Outreach Research and Education Program, which initiated the healing and performing arts courses, is dedicated to reducing cancer health disparities, enriching the lives of patients and their families, and supporting community members interested in learning more about cancer.

For more information, visit www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cancer.