Free art therapy aims to ease cancer patients during chemotherapy
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Dozens of cancer patients, including Shelia Rouse, endure long hours of chemotherapy, but volunteer Mary Parks wants to help relieve the stress and pain that are included with each session.
“Well, it’s fulfilling to the patient. It fills their time while they’re here,” says Parks.
Once a week, Parks spend more than 4 hours with patients in the infusion center at Navicent Health working on art projects they can take home to show to their families and friends.
Doctors diagnosed Rouse with breast cancer on June 19.
“So, when I paint it just gives me hope,” says Rouse.
The grandmother is raising her two grandsons. Her granddaughter is in the army.
She says each day is a challenge, but through the art therapy program, she’s able to escape from her reality, and focus on winning her battle with cancer.
“Without faith and the hope that I have, I wouldn’t be here today.”
And Parks lets all her patients know, “there’s no mistakes in art.”
“Art is anywhere. Art can be an old sketch you did, or it can be a new project you started,” says Parks.
Ever since retirement, Parks has used art as her own therapy. She picked up paint brushes 10 years ago and decided to give back to those she can relate to.
“My mother had cancer, and so did my father,” she adds.
Parks keeps an art diary with paintings from her current patients, and her former patients who lost the cancer battle.
During each of her visits she sees about 5 patients.
“It takes them to another place,” Parks adds, “It takes them away from the moment.”
It’s a moment Rouse and Parks both look forward to.
If you would like to volunteer, there is a free art therapy class at the Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, located at 800 First Street in Macon. Volunteers, cancer patients and survivors are welcome to work on art projects together each 4th Friday.
For more information, call (478) 633-8537.