Arizona Oncology is offering art therapy classes to all of its cancer patients, free of charge.

Kelly Huey, social work manager at Arizona Oncology, said, Art therapy has really been helpful to help with lowering depression, helping with anxiety and helping patients to express themselves with what they’re going through.

In 2021, Gina Walsh, an art therapy participant, was pregnant with her first daughter, when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that forms in the lymph system.

Almost two years later, she is in remission, and a mom to a one-year old and an avid enjoyer of art therapy.

I have a daughter who is one and I want to do things sometimes even for an hour and a half, just for myself and by myself, said Walsh. It’s a very unique way to express your feelings versus telling them to a friend or co-worker, you get to express it through art and that’s what I just love about the program.

Arizona Oncology has hosted both journaling and painting classes.

Huey says they have received positive feedback from participants and have plans to host more classes in the future.

She says everyone has to find what works best for them, and the best way to do that is to be willing to try new things.

Be open to trying things you know, that’s what I tried to tell our patients. Just try it and see it might work for you. It might not, but give it a shot, said Huey.

Walsh describes art therapy classes as her form of self-care.

You dont even have to necessarily talk about your experience and whatnot. You can just display it, you can just show it through the canvas that you paint and create, said Walsh.

One goal for these classes is to create a welcoming and supportive place.

You can paint whatever you want, whatever color you want. It doesn’t have to be in the line, there’s no comparison, said Huey. You know, the only thing you have to be able to do is to be able to hold a paintbrush.

Walsh echoed the same idea about the importance of creating a support system.

She said, I fortunately have made it out on the other side where I am in remission, but I just want to let everyone know that I am with them on that journey because I know how difficult and how hard it is

Huey has big aspirations for what she wants the program to become.

My dream would be to have a whole integrative program where we offer yoga, Tai chi, painting classes and just fun things for patients to do where they could interact with one another.