Seeing hope in pictures

Pictures of hope: Patients are telling stories of shared experiences.

Lung cancer patients express themselves through paintings as part of a project started by a cancer specialist in Israel.

These are pictures of hope. Pictures that tell very personal stories. For these patients with lung cancer, the opportunity to express themselves through their paintings is both cathartic and reason to keep the faith. Groups of patients are coming together in Israel to visualize their thoughts.

The project called Ziurea (combination of lung and painting in Hebrew) is the brainchild of a senior oncologist, Dr Abed Agbaria, based in northern Israel in the cities of Nazareth and Haifa. A few years ago, while attending a congress abroad, he had visited an exhibition of paintings by lung cancer patients. He came home with the vision to start something similar, and Roche Israel supported him in his endeavor.

Paintings for patients: The artwork will also be used during patient seminars.

Expressing themselves

“To start with, the patients from two lung cancer centers are participating in this project. So far, four meetings have taken place in artists’ studio and 10 patients have participated in each of them to express themselves through paintings. Each of the 40 pictures so far and others to follow from subsequent meetings will be part of a bigger picture that will be exhibited in the shape of a lung later during LCAM,” says Neta Pery, Medical Representative in the Roche Israel Lung Cancer team.

“Usually it is just the patients who take part in these small events and come up with the paintings. Sometimes they are accompanied by their spouses who are allowed to see only the final product. Inspiration therefore has to come from deep within and without any prompting,” she adds. At one of these sessions the head nurse also joined in and painted a picture.

Adding color to meetings

Efforts are made to use some of the paintings during patient seminars, at different meetings of lung clinics in oncology institutes around the country as well as in meetings of the Israeli Cancer Association. The municipality of Haifa has also agreed to allocate the town hall for the opening event in the presence of the mayor.

“This is the first such project with lung cancer patients that Roche is supporting in Israel. We believe that such an activity helps the patients see hope in the pictures that they paint. It is an outlet and a diversion for them from their illness and helps them to think positively about the future,” points out Daniella Bismuth, Lung Cancer Field Force Manager.

Serious issue

1. Incidence of lung cancer in Israel - about 25 for every 100,000

2. Number of new cases diagnosed every year - about 2000

3. Age group most affected - above 65 years

4. Leading cancer killer in men, third in women

5. Number of specialist lung cancer treatment centers in the country - 60

Tags: Patients