“Cancer arrived and every creative fibre in Angie’s body left”
Meet Angie, a powerfully positive mum of two daughters, who couldn’t believe cancer had happened to her. Cancer was not in her family genes - in fact Angie used to joke with her daughters about how beautiful the genes were that she had passed down to them, right down to their perfectly-shaped eyebrows. Now, because of her treatment, Angie no longer has eyebrows.
In 2013, Angie was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and commenced her after which she was given the all clear later that year. She was done, she had beaten it, and left as a healthy, happy woman with a new lease on life.
However, in February 2016, Angie became ill overnight and a CT scan revealed her cancer had returned and was on her brain. Angie says: “It was like the whole floor was opening up and swallowing me.” She still maintained her positive mindset, however, and vowed that cancer was not taking over her life. Three days after diagnosis she saw her neurosurgeon and a week later underwent two major brain operations to remove her tumours.
Angie visits Lifehouse every three weeks for treatment. Before being diagnosed she dabbled in various art projects to release her creative flair.
She would often see Deb the Director of Arterie holding group workshops, running around with “Carterie” – small cart trolleys containing a range of quick and easy projects - and engaging with patients.
Arterie is an innovative inter-disciplinary model of art in healthcare practice, specifically designed to improve outcomes for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse patients, families, carers and staff by easing the side effects of cancer and its treatment such as stress, pain, fatigue, isolation and depression. Arterie participates in a way that fits with the patient’s treatment – it is non-invasive, inclusive and supportive.
Although Angie was a keen artist, she had lost her sense of creativity and passion whilst going through treatment, until one day she was having a particularly rough day and felt very unsettled in Lifehouse. Deb was quick to notice that she wasn’t seeming herself and encouraged her to attend a watercolour group workshop given by artist Margaret McKenna. Not only did she enjoy the art but the volunteer running the workshop was a listening ear and provided a perfect distraction to her rough day. Angie says that day will remain among her fondest memories, as she left Lifehouse feeling uplifted and said to herself as she walked home “hey, I’ve still got my creative flair”.
She has since participated in other various group workshops creating pieces of art for the hospital, and every time she walks into Lifehouse and sees those artworks hanging she thinks: “Yep, that’s a little piece of me in there”.
Angie says Deb and her Arterie team are not only an arts program, they create a sense of belonging, they are inclusive and non-judgemental.
Without the funding Lifehouse receives from Dry July we would never be able to continue to run these patient centred workshops, provide mobile arts studios (Carterie) or create the collaboration artworks to display in the hospital. So Thank YOU!