Creativity Brings Joy to the Cancer Journey
This is especially important for pediatric cancer, which is the leading cause of death from disease in children in the U.S. In 2022,
Creative art therapy included making cloth mini-me dolls, repurposing radiation masks into art, creating playful movement using props such as balls, scarves, and a parachute as an in-the-moment adaptation to the loss of physical functioning, and applying yoga breathing exercises to control pain.
Valuing The Mind-Body Connection
Researchers enrolled 98 children and their parents in the study. Eighteen patients received no creative arts therapy, 32 received a low dose of CAT, and 33 received a high dose.
Children who experienced CAT and the parents who observed their children reported significantly better quality of life. Additionally, patients’ posture seemed to change several times during their treatment, reflecting their changing mood and sense of self.
“We looked in the physical therapy literature and found a posture measure,” says Raybin, CU Cancer Center member and a nurse practitioner who led the Palliative Care Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Children are so tired of taking medication for their symptoms. It’s important to think about the mind-body connection and any kind of integrative and complementary therapies we could add that can help them process the physical and psychological symptoms.
Studying The Results
Creative Arts Therapy, which is conducted by a trained therapist who in this case is also a licensed professional counselor, is greatly different than personal art-making, dancing, or music-making.
Those activities have also been associated with improved quality of life, but they are not guided by a trained clinician. Creative arts therapists assess patients’ psychological needs and intentionally apply interventions.
For the next phase of her research, researchers hope to do a multi-site study of creative arts therapy programs, aiming to prove their value so that they become a more standard part of care for young cancer patients.
Curing cancer alone is not enough, we should negotiate the physical and psychological issues surrounding serious illness by providing an enjoyable aspect to otherwise difficult treatment.