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Art As A Healing Tool In Cancer

Cancer patients at the Siteman Cancer Center are a part of the new Arts as Healing program initiated by the School of Medicine's Medical Photography, Illustration and Computer Graphics (MedPIC) department. // The initiative called "Your Square Matters," invites patients and their families to paint a 4-inch square ceramic tile.

Currently, more than 400 tiles have been painted in this manner. These unique artworks are on display at Siteman's infusion center in the Center for Advanced Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. "When people see the wall, they are often overwhelmed. Some cry, some smile, some just stand there and look. Some even have their picture taken with their tile and their chemo nurse," said Vicki L. Friedman, director of MedPIC. She added that the program was designed to help patients bring out their feelings. "Those are the kinds of things where we just stand back and watch," Friedman said. "It's very overwhelming, very emotional. That's the beauty of it. It can change the tone of the room in a minute." Friedman knows what she is talking about since she survived breast cancer 19 years ago. "You're going in there to try to save your life," Friedman said. "The minute we bring them to the table, they start interacting and everything changes."

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