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Healing Strokes Art Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients 

Washington Regional Cancer Support Home Announces New Program

Press Release

Washington Regional Medical Center

Healing Strokes Art Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients

Washington Regional Cancer Support Home Announces New Program

Washington Regional Cancer Support Home was recently awarded a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation to begin a new creative arts program designed to provide support for breast cancer survivors in Washington and Benton counties. The pilot project, called Healing Strokes, is a collaborative effort between the Washington Regional Breast Care Navigator program and YouthCAN!, a local not-for-profit prevention agency.

A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management earlier this year found that art therapy can reduce a broad spectrum of symptoms related to pain and anxiety in cancer patients. In the study done at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, cancer patients reported significant reductions in eight of nine symptoms measured by the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) after spending an hour working on art projects of their choice. The ESAS is a numeric scale allowing patients to assess their symptoms of pain, tiredness, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, lack of appetite, well-being and shortness of breath. Eight of these nine symptoms improved; nausea was the only symptom that did not change as a result of the art therapy session.

"In addition to medical treatments, cancer patients often benefit from complementary therapies such as art or creative writing to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and boost their ability to cope with stress," states Susan Earnest, RN, Breast Care Navigator at Washington Regional. Art therapy provides a distraction that allows patients to focus on something positive instead of their health for a time, and it also gives patients something they can control."

Healing Strokes classes will be led by Barbara Price Davis, Executive Director of YouthCAN!, an agency that, for over seven years, has used art as a means to empower youth to make responsible choices. As an artist, social psychologist and breast cancer survivor, Davis brings a unique scope of talent, experience and understanding to this exciting new program. "Art is a universal language; a means of communication that transcends words," notes Davis. "I know from my own experience with cancer that art can be both healing and life-enhancing. It provides a vehicle for expression that is often preferential to patients who may be uncomfortable with conventional psychotherapy or those who find verbal expression difficult."

Beginning January 4, 2007, Healing Strokes classes will meet weekly for 12 weeks. Each session will last 90 minutes. Dawn Graham, a licensed art therapist and art teacher with Springdale Public Schools will assist Davis and Susan Earnest will be on-hand to provide additional resources and support for class participants. Class enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis and there is no charge to participate.

For further information, please phone Susan Earnest at (479) 466-5893 or e-mail searnest@wregional.com. For more information about the Cancer Support Home and its services, please visit www.wregional.com or phone (479) 521-8024.

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