Program Brings Art and Medicine Together

Texas Children's Hospital has a constant stream of patients and doctors going about their business of medicine. But also in the mix in the hospital's Cancer Center and Hematology Service is a steady stream of artists from the community.

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For a lot of children with cancer, Texas Children's Cancer Center and Hematology Service becomes a home away from home because of the amount of time they have to spend there for treatment. To help enhance that experience, artists from the community are routinely involved with patients and their families. On any given day, a singing group may be performing or painters may be doing portraits of bed-ridden patients. Carol Herron coordinates the Arts in Medicine program.

"This is our infusion area and this is really what I tell our volunteers and artists is our living. This is where patients spend the day. This is where they receive their medications, they do homework, they nap, they eat, they play here. This is where we bring musicians and dancers and magicians and you name it."

Herron says patients and their families decide if they want to participate. The program offers a wide variety for all ages and all capacities. Herron says one example is movement art at bedside.

"She will do creative movement games with patients, like have them carry on a dialogue using body parts. So they will say hello with their elbows and talk back with their elbows, say hello and carry on a conversation with their feet. So she's getting them to move and remain in their bed."

Herron says there are many reasons for including an art program in a hospital.

"Kids frequently are told what to do when they are in the hospital and where they can go and all that. And we want to allow them to have some control."

Pediatrics Professor Doctor Mark Horowitz,

"the child being treated for leukemia or brain tumor could be here weekly for two, three years. It becomes a part of their life and so it should be a pleasant part of their life as difficult as it sounds to go through cancer treatment and still have it pleasant. Children manage."

Horowitz says points out the majority of children will survive their childhood cancer. The arts program can have a lasting effect.

"This is the kind of thing that insurance companies don't pay for and grant funding doesn't pay for. It's really through generous community support that we can continue this type of thing."

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