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According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, over 30% of adults and nearly 12 % of children use non-mainstream or conventional medicine approaches to health care. Many take the “integrative” approach to medicine; that is using non-conventional approaches along with conventional treatments.
Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, music therapy, oncology massage etc have shown to benefit some cancer patients when provided under physician guidance during their cancer treatment. Other forms of therapies such as healing through art has been found to reduce stress and anxiety and have positive effects on personal growth, coping and help with social interaction for cancer survivors.
IACAN, Indian American Cancer Network strives to educate and expose cancer survivors to complementary therapies such as art, music in order to help reduce the level of anxiety, fatigue and help to boost their immune system during their recovery.
On Tuesday, September 22, 2015, IACAN presented an art therapy session to its survivor group. Neeta Balsaver, an avid painting enthusiast from Sugar land opened her heart and her office to show the cancer survivor group and their families the basics of painting.
Neeta provided all the necessary art supplies. The art “students” age ranging from 6 years to over 70 years enthusiastically absorbed all the tips offered by Neeta. For this beginner’s class Neeta chose “Stary Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. Neeta walked us through various steps of painting, from sketching the outline of the hills, the houses, the trees, the moon and the stars to brush stroke techniques used by Van Gogh. While we were trying to sketch the various items of the painting, Neeta talked about the benefits of painting to the body, mind, and spirit.
Neeta encouraged us to experiment and express ourselves and not just copy the painting. At first Van Gogh’s “Stary Night“ looked intimidating to paint. But with Neeta’s step by step instructions we first began to sketch with chalk the outlines of the rolling hills, the clouds, the house and church, the trees and the moon and the stars. We then started to apply different color paints to each of the items as appropriate. As our creative juices started to flow, before long, we could see, one by one the different components of the picture begin to evolve. We were surprised to see the transformation of our latent talent for art work flow on to a blank canvas resulting into a wonderful picture. Everyone showed a sense of accomplishment with their work. Neeta patiently guided and applauded the effort put forth by each of us. Soon everyone was engrossed in completing and perfecting their painting as much as possible.
Neeta mentioned that she started painting as a way of relaxation and enjoys painting with her friends at her leisure. While enjoying very healthy dinner, all of us viewed the work of others, appreciated the effort and enthusiasm put in by others.
Art therapy gives a sense of well-being. It creates a harmonious balance between the mind, body and the sprit that stimulates the body’s natural self-healing process. This rejuvenates our body and increases the strength and improves our sleep. IACAN is planning to bring many more such complementary therapies/activities to cancer patients and survivors.
For IACAN information: