Many face-to-face cancer wellness programs have been unable to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic to help protect vulnerable cancer patients and their families. But the generosity of the Dry July Foundation has ensured patients can still access some of these - all from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
This funding enabled the Arts in Health service at Flinders Medical Centre to create a range of online videos and resources for patients, their carers and families including meditation and relaxation to music, art therapy, creative writing, journal making and illustration, guided art making and uplifting music.
Arts in Health at FMC Manager Sally Francis says the online resources had been tailored to meet the specific needs of those experiencing cancer and are delivered by experienced artists and Arts in Health practitioners.
“The initial production of the video resources was a reflexive response to the restrictions of COVID-19, meaning patients no longer had physical access to the Cancer Wellness Centre. Prior to this, patients were enjoying creative workshops and music for relaxation in the centre itself,” Sally explained.
“Feedback gained from patients prior to the Cancer Wellness Centre closure illustrated the soothing and calming benefits of engaging in an art activity or relaxation to music.
“Writing and journaling activities also help people with cancer to reflect and tell their personal stories and art therapy offers processes for patients to process and externalise their experience through creative expression.
“The practical outcomes of these engagements mean people can feel supported and guided to learn a new skill.”
Among those to use the online videos was Pam Priadko, who was diagnosed with Lymphoma six years ago. Having undergone chemotherapy, Pam still attends regular appointments at Flinders and is involved in a local cancer support group.
“I quite liked the journaling videos as I’ve journaled in the past about my cancer journey,” Pam said.
“It’s a nice activity to do to create something just for you, and to do when you have time to stop and reflect. The videos were well done and explain how to get started in a way that’s helpful for those who may not have done it before.”
Pam is looking forward to many of the Arts in Health activities and other cancer wellness programs re-commencing in-person soon, to provide more support for those living with cancer.
“Cancer is such a shock and a real journey, and I really recognise the value in getting together with other people to talk about it, and hear how others are feeling,” Pam says.
“It’s also valuable to hear from others about how to access services, information or other tips - whether that be related to cancer or to other aspects of life, because life still goes on.”
Arts in Health online resources and activities can be accessed here