Art reveals cancer experience in 'Healers, Artists and Survivors' exhibit
The emotional impact of a breast cancer diagnosis takes a different form for each patient. Julianna Paradisi, R.N., O.C.N. and Margaret Hartsook, M.A., two Legacy Cancer Institute providers, understand this more than most as they don’t just care for those with breast cancer but are also survivors themselves.
Paradisi, an oncology nurse navigator, and Hartsook, an art therapist, were both diagnosed in the early 2000s and have channeled their experiences into beautiful works of art that are now on display in the Legacy Cancer Healing Center at Legacy Good Samaritan through January 2018.
When Paradisi was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 she was given a 30 percent chance of dying within a decade. Seventeen years later, she is cancer-free and has become an accomplished painter and nurse navigator who provides education and support to patients throughout their journey with cancer.
“As an oncology nurse navigator, and breast cancer survivor, I imagine myself a Sherpa. I guide my patients up a mountain I am familiar with. I point out the footholds, and avert from treacherous terrain. When we reach the summit, there’s the realization that beyond the mountain, another view exists. By climbing to the top, we transcend the familiar to gaze upon the panoramic vista extending beyond the mountain that once blocked our view,” reflects Paradisi.
While Paradisi became an artist after her diagnosis, Hartsook has been interested in all forms of art and craft since she was a little girl. Using clay, textile, paint and other mediums, she has illustrated her experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer the same year she lost her brother to brain cancer.
“It’s can be very meaningful for those affected by cancer to find a creative outlet and can help them begin to answer questions related to, ‘why me?’” said Hartsook. ”Art can give us a place to process the difficult feelings that can be associated with a cancer diagnosis.”
It’s been 12 years since Hartsook’s diagnosis and she is now finding another level of meaning in the art she created during those years.
“At the time, I didn’t realize what was compelling me to paint certain things but now I am able to look back at the art with a new understanding of what I was processing at that moment,” continued Hartsook. “Creating these pieces helped to heal my spirit and my emotions.”
The art exhibit entitled, “Healers, Artists and Breast Cancer Survivors: A window into their world,” honors Breast Cancer Awareness Month and features the providers’ work related to their experiences caring for breast cancer survivors in addition to being survivors themselves.
Legacy will host an opening reception for the exhibit on Thursday, November 2, 2017 that will include a conversation with the artists and a keynote address by Nathalie Johnson, M.D., medical director of Legacy Cancer Institute, author, singer, dancer and a breast cancer survivor.
What: Opening reception for “Healers, Artists and Breast Cancer Survivors: A window into their world”
When: Thursday, November 2, 2017; Reception 4 – 6 p.m.; Keynote Speaker & Artist Conversation – 6:00
Where: Lower Level Atrium of Legacy Good Samaritan’s Medical Office Building 3 (1130 N.W. 22nd Avenue, Lower Level Atrium, Portland, OR 97210)
About Art Therapy
Art therapy is a powerful way for patients and their families to connect with the underlying emotional processes associated with a cancer diagnosis. Legacy Cancer Healing Center’s art therapy classes help cancer patients manage the emotional and psychological effects that can result from a cancer diagnosis. Legacy conducted research into effects art therapy has on its patients and found it improved pain by 38.2 percent; tiredness by 36.3 percent; depression by 62.8 percent and anxiety by 59 percent.
For more information about Legacy Cancer Institute’s breast health services, click here.
Photo 1: Paradisi meets with a patient in Legacy Good Samaritan's Stenzel Healing Garden.
Photo 2: Hartsook leading an art exercise involving clay with patients.
Photo 3: Keynote speaker, breast cancer survivor and medical director of Legacy Cancer Institute and Breast Health Centers, Nathalie Johnson, M.D.
Contact Megan Deisler with media-related questions.