Lancet Oncology Covers Feature Patient Artwork


Artwork created by Memorial Sloan Kettering patients in the art therapy program has been chosen to grace many covers of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet Oncology throughout 2014.

The program gives participants a chance to work with a trained art therapist in a safe, private, and relaxing environment to find ways to communicate their experiences through art, by drawing, painting, and creating with other media.

“The honor of seeing their personal creations featured on the cover of The Lancet Oncology has lifted patients’ spirits tremendously,” says art therapist Sarah D’Agostino, who oversees the art therapy program. “They feel excited, validated, and proud to have their artwork associated with such a prestigious publication.”

Several cancer centers submitted artwork for inclusion on the covers; pieces from Memorial Sloan Kettering patients were chosen for nine of the 12 issues this year.

The Benefits of Art Therapy

“Art therapy serves as an outlet for expressing whatever feelings one has about his or her illness — fear, anger, frustration, loss, negativity, optimism, or hope — that may be difficult to verbalize,” says Ms. D’Agostino.

It’s also a way to relieve the stress that can accompany patients’ clinical treatment routines.

“Art therapy augments the medical treatment and helps patients cope with some of the related symptoms,” Ms. D’Agostino adds. “Doing something creative can transform the experience of going for an exam or treatment, which for some people may cause fear or anxiety, into something positive and meaningful, something they look forward to doing.”

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How to Get Involved

The art therapy program holds an open studio every Tuesday for patients and their family members to create art with watercolors, acrylic paints, collage, pastels and more. Patients can also showcase their work in a revolving exhibition program and portfolio gallery in the Cynthia Lufkin Fitness & Seminar Room. “It was conceived several years ago as a way to showcase to the Memorial Sloan Kettering community — patients, their family members, and staff — the powerful artwork created in the open studio,” says Ms. D’Agostino.

The program will be sponsoring a show of artwork made by patients in the art therapy program and a reception on April 23 at the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center. Larry Norton, Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Breast Cancer Programs, and Memorial Sloan Kettering psychiatrist Mary Jane Massie will be speaking at the event. “The patients who make the art represent a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and levels of art experience,” Ms. D’Agostino says. “The common thread is that all of them use art therapy as a tool for coping with cancer and as a way of healing.”

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