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Patients Find Comfort in Painting Their Cancer Journeys at Texas Oncology-Plano East

In 2007, Jody Neice underwent a bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction, then chemotherapy at Texas Oncology–Plano East after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In her words, “It was a whirlwind of information, doctor visits, questions, and fear of the unknown.”

Healing Through Art

After finishing chemotherapy, Neice felt a need to help people who were going through the same thing. “I wanted to assure them that they could get through it,” says Neice. “I volunteered at Texas Oncology–Plano East and helped by bringing survivors snacks, talking and listening to them, and helped them try on wigs.”

Neice adds, “My sister pushed me to put my story on paper and eventually, canvas. So, I began drawing my thoughts on 5” x 5” cards and when I was feeling good, I would start to paint the canvas. One day, at a Texas Oncology, her nurse Mary Fitzgerald held a support group called “How Did You Get through Chemo?” I brought my journal and half-painted canvas and talked about how my art was part of my journey. A woman in the group enthusiastically said, ‘I want to do that, too! You should teach a class.’”

Although she had never taught before, Neice knew she had a calling and decided to team up with Texas Oncology, alongside Fitzgerald and her business partner. Nine years ago the team began offering a “Healing Through Art” class to Texas Oncology patients interested in telling their cancer story through paint while bonding with fellow cancer fighters. Now, even some of the patients are helping assist with classes.

Healing Through Art has developed into an annual class in the spring, scheduled, for cancer survivors and caregivers. The resulting art is displayed in Texas Oncology’s waiting room. An open house is hosted at the end of each session, in which friends and families are invited for an unveiling of the stunning finished products and to hear their stories. Neice says, “It provides a chance for the patients and their families to share their experience and discuss the cathartic nature of the entire process.”

When sharing her experience in Healing Through Art, Texas Oncology–Plano East breast cancer patient Romy Langenecker says, “I learned so much about the journeys of each survivor. Most women are believers like me and draw so much strength out of their faith. It shows in their art boards.”

Langenecker adds, “I am a six year survivor and think every cancer survivor should sign up for the Healing through Art classes. So many said they finally had some sense of closure, meaning healing, even though they still don’t know what the future holds.”

“The classes are so meaningful to our patients,” said Rebecca Goodman, practice administrator at Texas Oncology–Plano East. “It’s become a support group in addition to a fun activity for the patients. They become friends during the course of class. It’s really nice to see.”

Interested in signing up? All patients are welcome to join.

The annual class takes place at Texas Oncology–Plano East one night per week from 5-7 p.m. for five weeks. The next class will take place in the spring of 2018, starting in either March or April. More information will be displayed in the cancer center, once the date is set. Come by and see the stories.

Interested patients or caregivers can contact Rebecca Goodman at rebecca.goodman@usoncology.com to reserve a space.