Lilly Oncology On Canvas

Many of you may have heard of the traveling exhibit “Lilly Oncology on Canvas” and may have even seen it.  For those of you unfamiliar with the exhibit and it’s purpose, here’s the background story…

The Lilly ‘Oncology On Canvas: Expressions of a Cancer Journey’ is a biennial art competition and exhibition that honors the journeys people face when confronted with a cancer diagnosis.  “The biennial competition invites individuals diagnosed with any type of cancer, their families, friends, caregivers and healthcare providers, to express, through art and narrative, the life-affirming changes that give their cancer journeys meaning.”

The program was started by Lilly USA, LLC  in 2004 in partnership with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS).  Btw, Lilly is a global pharmeutical company started in 1876 by Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical chemist and U.S. civil war veteran.  National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) is an advocacy group supporting quality cancer care for all Americans and empowers people with cancer to advocate for themselves.

Since it’s launch in 2004, Lilly Oncology On Canvas received more than 400 pieces of art from 23 countries.  Then in 2005, the artwork began it’s journey as  a traveling exhibit to more than 100 cities and seen by millions of people.  The 2006 competition received more than 2,000 pieces of art from 43 countries and journeyed close to 200 cities globally. 

And the journey continues…

Last year’s Lilly Oncology On Canvas competition was open to U.S. and Puerto Rico residents and received approximately 600 entries.  For 2008, the ‘Oncology On Canvas’ competition awarded 26 prizes to 20 cancer charities selected by the 19 winners in various categories.

For the month of November 2009, artwork from ‘Oncology On Canvas’ will be shown at 55 different locations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Below are the links to Lilly’s ‘Oncology On Canvas’ and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS):

 As you look at the artwork created by individuals diagnosed with cancer, their families, friends, caregivers and healthcare providers, read their stories of why they felt compelled to create, be it paintings or photographs – it’s quite moving.  Below are a few quotes from Lilly’s ‘Oncology On Canvas’ website:

“While fighting her battle…she found she could express her feelings by painting.  The creative activity relieved her stress and anxiety.  She referred to the experience as mental and spiritual healing – not to be confused with a physical cure…She taught me by painting I could stay in spiritual contact with her.”  Look at the painting and read this mother’s story at Lilly Oncology On Canvas website.

“The American Cancer Society uses the symbol of the daffodil for it’s campaign to raise awareness and funding for cancer.  To give a daffodil is to give hope to the cancer patient, friend , family and caregiver.” See the painting and read this healthcare professional’s story at Lilly Oncology On Canvas website.

“My artwork is in comic strip form because I believe God uses Humor to help us heal.  Cartoons are fun…Fun is good.”  Look at the drawing and read this person’s story (she was diagnosed with cancer) at Lilly Oncology On Canvas website.



Time and time again, whether it’s reading research articles or conducting Creativity Workshops for People With Cancer,  my belief that engaging in creative interventions reduces stress and anxiety levels is reinforced.  For example, in the first story above, the mother states her daughter’s experience with painting was ‘mental and spiritual healing-not to be confused with a physical cure.’  And there are thousands of stories like this…creative interventions is HEALing!

Andrew Weil, MD in his book ‘Spontaneous Healing,’  writes “The presence of cancer in the body, even in its earliest stages, already represents significant failure of the healing system (meaning the immune system).” (1)   He recommends patients work to improve health and resistance by “making changes on all levels: physical, mental/emotional and spiritual and to seek out HEALers.”

Remember, this being human is a multi-dimensional experience, and our experiences have physical – intellectual – spiritual – emotional components.  This is quite opposite the uni-dimensional approach prevalent in healthcare today.  Its akin to viewing us as unicellular organisms, like amobebas or parameciums rather than the complex, highly evolved, multi-dimensional, multicelluar beings capable of doing great things.

How do you want to be viewed by your healthcare team – as an Amoeba or Human Being?


 amoeba                            OR                         human being



Then, speak up for integrating Creative Interventions  in Healthcare!

Creativity Workshops for People with Cancer…

One to two times a year, I offer complimentary Creativity Workshops for people diagnosed with cancer and their families.  Btw, these are the Creativity Workshops I hope you will donate to.  At the conclusion of Creativity Workshops for People With Cancer, I conduct simple patient/customer satisfaction questionaires.  Below are several examples of paintings created by them at one of the workshops:

To read the stories of the persons who created the above paintings, click here to read the post on this blog.

Also, read ‘Quotes and Stories on Creativity By Patients and Healthcare Professionals’,  ‘The Science Supporting Creativity and the Arts in Healthcare’ under TOPICS in the left sidebar, and view additional paintings created by participants in other Creativity Workshops with People With Cancer & Their Families.

Actively engaging in creative interventions is HEALing.

One response to “Lilly Oncology On Canvas

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Lilly Oncology On Canvas « CREATIVITY IN HEALTHCARE --

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