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PUBLISHED: Mar 17, 2015 11:25am

Art therapy to heal cancer patients



(From left) Dr Vasuhi Murugiah (Subang Jaya Medical Centre CEO) and artist Elaine Therese Lim admiring one of Lim’s works together with the Miss Malaysia Universe finalists. — SJMC pic

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OF ALL the new treatments coming up in the fight against cancer, art might seem a little simple.

Don’t scoff the fact that it is low-tech though, as there is sufficient evidence to support the view that it can improve medical outcomes in cancer patients and that it helps to reduce stress and anxiety in patients.

With this in mind, Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC) is embarking on a new creative mission — to use art as a healing tool to help cancer patients in their fight against the disease.

SJMC chief executive officer Dr Vasuhi Murugiah says: “A number of studies have shown that art is healing and has been incorporated into the recovery process of top medical facilities around the world. As one of the leading cancer treatment facility in the country, we believe that integrating art therapy will definitely have a positive impact on patient outcomes. With this in mind, SJMC has started several workshops for children with cancer.”

She adds that in the past decade, when the hospital’s cancer centre treated around 10,000 patients, the survival rate of its breast cancer patients has shown to be on par with world-class cancer facilities.

She cites a study on breast cancer survivor rates conducted by independent medical research organisation, ClinResearch, which ranks SJMC’s cancer centre as having one of the highest compared to other leading cancer facilities from around the world.

Art therapy has been proven to help cancer patients. — pic
Art therapy has been proven to help cancer patients. — pic

These findings were reported at the Asian Oncology Summit 2014 as well as in the European Journal of Cancer 2014 May Supplement.

The centre recently launched an art exhibition called An Expression of Her Cancer Journey Through Art, which features the artworks of Elaine Therese Lim, a cancer survivor.

Dr Vasuhi says the featured artworks provided a therapeutic outlet for the artist and helped her explore and express feelings when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The exhibition is the first of many art-related activities such as workshops and classes that the hospital will be conducting for its cancer patients and survivors.

Lim, 60, says that art was her way of expressing her innermost feelings when she was undergoing the painful and emotional chemotherapy sessions.

“I believe art can help express hidden emotions; reduce stress, fear, and anxiety; and provide a sense of freedom, which is very important when faced with a disease like cancer,” she says, adding that she hopes her artwork will inspire and give courage to other cancer patients and survivors.

The art exhibition is happening now until March 28 and is among a series of activities organised by SJMC in conjunction with its 30th Anniversary Celebrations.

The launch of the art exhibition — which saw the presence of the Miss Malaysia Universe 2015/2016 finalists — also kickstarted the hospital’s Cancer and Radiosurgery Centre Open Day, a three-day event which featured a series of free health talks, tips on diet and nutrition and a health screening salon.

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