Quilting Therapy: Sew in that missing piece

Today’s Blog comes from Guest Blogger Allie. Allie is a Graduate of the University of Mississippi. She earned her degree in biomedical anthropology and is now  studying in the field to finish an ethnography on the effects of biomedicalization on Bolivian cultures. Her studies branch off into various and more specific modes of healing and coping, one of which is art.


Art comes from an inner need for self-expression. Verbal and non-verbal art helps define a culture. Individual personalities, emotions and insights are expressed but sometimes thoughts and feelings are not easily expressed verbally. This is one reason hospitals worldwide are incorporating art therapy for cancer patients. Art therapy is a means of coping with stress and releasing emotions through art forms.

When someone is diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, it is easy to become self-absorbed. The illness can lead to stress, anxiety, fear and depression. Art therapy shifts attention away from dwelling on the disease and lets one think about the outcome or things around them. Cancer patients are encouraged to creatively express how they feel about the cancer. As the nurses say “Creativity fosters health”.

Art therapy, assists in treating cancer patients throughout the United States and addresses a number of issues related with cancer.

Release from the pain

Medicines address physical pain, while art therapy helps heal the emotions and spirit of cancer patients. There is a direct connection between physical and emotional pain. When people are emotionally upset they tend to stiffen their body, which contributes to more physical discomfort. Quilting is one way to release painful emotions that the patient may have been holding back.

Emotional outlet
Quilting is an effective outlet for patients battling cancer as well as cancer survivors. The theme of the quilt may focus on the inner person or it may focus on the experience of cancer. The quilt reflects an image of how the patient sees himself or herself. Quilting is especially recommended for people who have a highly aggressive cancer such as mesothelioma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, since medical treatments for aggressive cancers can be overwhelming. Quilting provides a welcome break from the traumatic treatment routine.

Express yourself

When the cancer patient may be handling the illness well, while the family is not can cause emotional pain for the patient. Quilts are a way for cancer patients to share their feelings with family and friends. It’s an avenue for greater communication and a way to resolve issues. Messages can be embedded into it to make the quilt an extension of the patient.  Some even make quilts with their friends and family to make memories and talk freely with one-another. Everyone can be drawn closer together.

Creating a meaningful and beautiful quilt raises self-esteem. The cancer patient gains a sense of control, when so much else seems out of control. Quilts bring together a holistic expression of the person and reflect the heart, mind and soul of the cancer patient.

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