LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Medical science proves that art has a healing function to reduce stress in cancer patients. Two cancer patients in Lake Charles are using creative expression to pay it forward for others being treated at a cancer clinic.
There is a warmth to the walls at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital's hematology/oncology clinic: Original art pieces by the very cancer patients who are treated here.
"In a lot of ways it was a method for them to express their feelings about their diagnosis and getting through their treatments," said hematologist/oncologist Dr. Mohammad Khan.
Khan has the tough job of telling a person that he or she has cancer. No doubt it is a lot to take in for the man, woman or child being given the diagnosis.
"Not knowing what to expect, what kind of treatments are going to be required, whether it's radiation, chemotherapy, surgery or a combination of all of the above," said Khan.
Suzy Trahan and Jodie Guth are two of those patients that have been on the receiving end of bad news. Trahan with stage four colon cancer. Guth is now cancer-free after breast cancer treatment.
Both found art helped in their healing.
"I would bring my art supplies with me to the chemotherapy room," said Trahan, "and when I felt good I would sit up and draw and I painted."
Painting was a newfound hobby for Guth when she was undergoing cancer care.
"Painting was just a way to spend a day if I wasn't able to go to work," she said, "and it was kind of a blessing because I really enjoyed art."
Guth's bright and whimsical bicycle is a focal point on Khan's clinic walls. For her, it represents hope after losing her husband to cancer and bright days to come now that her cancer is gone.
"We had to start a grief journey of accepting the fact that his life would be shortened and I would need to persevere as a single parent," said Guth, "and part of the way that I dealt with that was exercise and we rode bikes together."
The story and artist behind each piece is powerful, all with a common thread.
"I want patients to be able to understand that by seeing these paintings that there is hope beyond a cancer diagnosis," said Khan.
Trahan and Guth plan to keep painting. Trahan is painting china now and Guth is painting on recycled cabinet doors.
Khan's patient collection is now up to five pieces.