Cancer patients process emotions through art therapy

Cancer survivors create artwork during a therapy session at Scotland Cancer Treatment Center.

LAURINBURG — Scotland Cancer Treatment Center has partnered with Saint Luke United Methodist Church to offer an Art Therapy program to cancer survivors who are undergoing or have completed cancer treatments.

Billy Olsen, pastor of Saint Luke United Methodist Church whose wife was diagnosed last year with cancer, recounted their experience at another facility and found art therapy to be an important part of their cancer journey.

“Scotland Cancer Treatment Center’s Art Therapy program is wonderful for survivors as well as for caregivers; it is a non-threatening way to connect individuals who are facing the same burdens,” Olsen said.

Cancer survivors often feel overwhelmed during the treatment process and find it hard to find a new normal. Art therapy is used to explore feelings, develop social skills and improve the quality of life.

A grant from the Scotland Memorial Foundation covered the startup cost to purchase art supplies for the free program, and volunteers from Saint Luke United Methodist Church offer much support.

“I am grateful for the volunteers (who) support this program,” said Mary Callahan-Lopez, oncology social worker at Scotland Cancer Treatment Center. “I would love to see this program grow and see more patients benefit from it. Art therapy is self-expression at its best. It offers an alternate way of treatment and allows interaction among the survivors and volunteers.”

Art therapy participant Annie Harrington says she loves the program.

“I look forward to Tuesday’s art therapy class because I enjoy drawing and the unity of everyone helping each other.”

Art therapy meets every Tuesday from 3-5 p.m. for cancer survivors at the Scotland Cancer Treatment Center.

For information about the Art Therapy program at Scotland Cancer Treatment Center, call Mary Callahan-Lopez at 910-291-7638.