The Herald Bulletin

April 8, 2013

On canvas

Unique art exhibit highlights hospital expansion

By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — On her face, there’s no self-pity — only defiance, captioned with: “No Hair — Don’t Care — Lucky Me — Cancer Free.”

The portrait, painted in oil by an artist in Florida, is part of “Lilly Oncology on Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey,” a unique touring exhibit showcasing works by people affected by cancer — whether as a patient, as a family member, friend or health care provider.

“Oncology on Canvas” began in 2004, as a project of Lilly Oncology and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and has received submissions from 4,100 individual artists to date. The exhibit tours medical centers in Puerto Rico and the U.S.

That includes St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital Cancer Center, 2020 Meridian St., where it goes on display April 17, during a public open house.

The art is “really a great expression of what it means to have cancer — that fight,” said Nancy Anderson, director of the hospital’s foundation. “Because that’s what it is: a fight.”

And the fight is more than just physical, it’s emotional — especially in coping with such a long, laborious treatment process.

“Chronic disease, like cancer, requires a very comprehensive care package,” said Sandra Crawley, who directs The Cancer Center and The Research Institute. “You have to treat the person, not just the condition.”

Self expression can go a long way, but it doesn’t replace quality medical care. That’s why the hospital is also upgrading its cancer center treatment facilities.

The upgrades include new technology, such as a new Trilogy stereotatic surgery machine for the Radiation Oncology Center, which delivers powerful, pin-pointed doses of radiation treatment for cancer patients.

In addition, the Outpatient Chemotherapy and Infusion Center, on the Erskine Medical Office Building’s second floor, has added 13 new treatment bays, each with its own private television screen, a new chair and space for a family member or friend.

There are also five new private treatment rooms for patients who need to be isolated.

The added space allows patients more comfort, privacy and lessens the time they wait to be seen.

“We wanted to make sure we can get them in, get them better,” Crawley said. “Not sitting out there knowing they need treatment.”

The expansion, partially funded by the foundation, has been in the works for a few years, spurred by a perceived community need for high-tech treatment facilities that don’t necessitate driving to Indianapolis or Muncie, she said.

“People need to know they have quality, high-tech health care right here,” she said. “Our whole goal with any of our upgrades is to give as much back to the community, in the community as we can.”

But she doesn’t discount the value of expression. Art is one form, but so is talking — something they do frequently at the Cancer Center.

“These patients come back time and time again, they build relationships, share stories, learn about each other’s families,” Crawley said. “It’s a healing environment, real relationship-based care. We kind of become a family.”

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.