The healing power of art: Living with a Cancer Diagnosis

Kathy Ramsey

Gabriola Arts Council

Monday, February 25 2013

Cancer changes everything. Whether you are in remission or whether you’ve just been diagnosed, cancer brings up a range of feelings that are tough to deal with. 

Expressing those feelings with a trained therapist can help reduce isolation, anxiety and stress, but, if you’re like so many of us, talking about these feelings can be frustrating and difficult. Art therapy allows you to express thoughts and emotions that can be hard to put into words.

And, no! You don’t have to be a talented artist to experience the healing power of art! 

Expressing yourself through art might feel a bit different and unnatural at first but that’s okay – most of us are not used to communicating through the arts. The professional art therapists that are part of Gabriola Arts Council’s free Integrative Therapy Program are trained in both therapy and art, using the creative process as a tool to help others express themselves. 

“Art therapy is a gentle yet powerful modality that allows expression through art of feelings that can literally be ‘beyond words,’ ” said team therapist Jaki Deere. She will be working alongside registered art therapist Liz McNight, both of whom are island residents.

“Living with chronic illness can be isolating,” a recent participant in GAC’s Chronic Pain Art Therapy program wrote. “Having two trained professionals putting us at ease and leading our group through the ‘class’ made it a safe place to truly open up.” 

This free eight-week program starts March 7. Information/application packages are available at the Community Resource Centre and the Gabriola Medical Clinic, or can be requested online at