UPMC Cancer Patients Come Together to Paint

By: Cynthia Patton

UPMC Cancer Patients Come Together to PaintThe Hillman Cancer Center, part of the UPMC CancerCenter network, is attracting the artistic talents of its patients and staff thanks to a project called Lilly Oncology On Canvas.  It’s a paint-by-number project that encourages collaboration as each person puts their brush to a portion of the art work.

The project recently greeted visitors on the fourth floor of Hillman in the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers.

James Brown, a Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, resident, was leaving the Lemieux Center after blood tests when he stopped to check out the painting. He selected the orange paint for his portion. His wife, Joyce Brown, watched before she was then encouraged to select her favorite color – blue – to add her special touch.

“It’s a nice idea,” said Joyce Brown, who asked her husband for help to paint the edges so it would look a “little neater.”

The Browns were among the first to take part in the project at the Lemieux Center. As the day continued, more patients, visitors, nurses and other staff members added their colors to complete the painting.

In January, the same painting was selected by staff members on the second and third floors of Hillman. Both are on display at the entrances to the respective treatment areas, and soon all three paintings will be framed and displayed on each floor.

“This has been such a great project for our patients because it has helped to connect them with other patients and families where they can talk about something other than cancer,” said Lynne O’Connor, unit director of Hillman’s second floor.  “We have even had some of our nurses join their patients so they could paint together.”

UPMC Cancer Patients Come Together to PaintThe painting selected by Hillman is called “Soaring Hope,” and was an original acrylic by an unnamed Indiana resident who was diagnosed with cancer. In the personal description of the piece, the artist wrote, “I had an idea to sketch and paint a ribbon with different colors to represent all cancers. I added hearts because I’ve felt lots of love and support through my journey.”

Lilly Oncology On Canvas began about 12 years ago as a competition among budding artists who were affected by cancer, but today, it’s no longer a competition. All art is accepted year-round, and the project has been expanded to include music and poetry. The original artwork is included in a Lilly Oncology produced book and on the Lilly Oncology on Canvas website.