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Cancer Patients, Caregivers Find Creative Outlet

CancerWise - August 2008

By Nada El-Sayed

Art is a universal language, able to transcend boundaries. Cancer is a devastating disease, and for people living with cancer, art can be a powerful tool to relieve suffering through creative expression.

COLLAGE: The Art for Cancer Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing innovative art programs for people living with cancer.

Jennifer Wheler, M.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics, founded COLLAGE in 2006, inspired by her belief in the transformative power of art.

COLLAGE is on call for patients

The two core programs of COLLAGE at M. D. Anderson are the art workshops and the Artist-in-Residence program. The workshops are held bi-monthly at the 

Chinese ink art is a popular COLLAGE workshop topic.

Place ... of wellness. Dedicated artists from the community lead classes in a variety of mediums including painting, photography and collage.

The Artist-in-Residence program brings the artist to the bedside, treatment rooms and waiting areas to work one-on-one with patients and caregivers to create art.

Many patients participating in the program have found it provides an escape from the daily stresses of cancer treatment. “After participating in COLLAGE’s workshop, one patient mentioned that it was the first time since her diagnosis that she hadn’t thought about her cancer,” Wheler says.

Many participants have commented that they enjoy the feeling of community and openness among the group during the workshops. Participants benefit in ways that are as individual as the art they create.

For more information about the program, visit the COLLAGE Web site, call 713-521-0547, or e-mail

M. D. Anderson resources:

  • Place ... of wellness

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center