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Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s (WRNMMC) Hematology/ Oncology department held a healing arts exhibit at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) recently.

WRNMMC Commander Rear Adm. Alton Stocks delivered opening remarks and welcomed everyone to the event.

“I think this is exciting that we’ve had this for this many years in a row and it continues to grow and get better every year,” said Stocks. “When I think about art and what it means to us at the medical center, it’s not just something for our patients, which is what many people think. It does mean a lot to our patients but it also means a lot to the families of the patients and it means a lot to our staff members, as well as anybody that comes within these walls.”

“Art provides an outlet I think for all of us; patients, family and staff that we might not be able to put into words. It’s in very different mediums and means different things,” said Stocks.

Sponsored in part by the Oakleaf Club of Greater Washington, D.C. and the Mary Jane Sanford committee the art exhibit allowed patients, staff and family members the opportunity to display their artwork that helped inspire them throughout their recovery process.

Stocks reflected on his experiences as a pediatric physician and the success he had with art in the recovery process.

“I’m a pediatric kidney doctor by trade, so the kids that I’ve taken care of over the years are often very ill,” said Stocks. “When I first started watching them and some of the art they were experiencing, I thought well this is just something to pass the time and maybe they won’t be so aware of the things we have to do to them to make them better. I found out it was much more than that it contributed to their success.”

The idea for the art exhibit was formed when hematology/oncology staff found out about the art work patients were doing while getting care.

“They were talking to the patients and finding out that many of them were sculpturing and doing paintings at home. After a few years, they decided we could have an art show to exhibit their artwork. The first one was nine years ago,” said Judy Cassells, Oakleaf Club board member.

Formerly the Breast Cancer Art show, the name for the exhibit changed due to increased participation.

“We named it a healing art show this year for the first time because so many patients, other than just oncology patients were also doing artwork, especially the wounded warriors. On the second floor of NICoE much of the artwork they [wounded warriors] did is hung on the walls. So, it was thought not only to expand it, but also to change the name to the healing art show because it is really a healing process for the patients,” said Cassells.

The art show had a table set up where participants could make art of their own using readily available household items to show them how easy making art at home can be.

“I think that was a nice addition to the show, so people could see that art isn’t a complicated thing necessarily, it’s just a way to express yourself,” said Cassells.