Art helps the healing process

Cancer patient Roobina Ohaniansaki used moldable clay to create delicate and detailed flowers, which she painted and adhered to a canvas.

Ohaniansaki’s 3D-style mixed-use artwork left art aficionados in awe at Sunday’s Lilly Oncology on Canvas exhibition at Glendale Memorial Hospital. Her artistic abilities served as healing for her as she went through chemotherapy and treatments for lymphoma, which she has battled for nine years.

“This is helping me stop thinking about cancer,” the Glendale resident said. “I think about nature and how God created everything beautiful. God’s healing me through this process.”

Ohaniansaki submitted two art pieces, which took her three months to complete. One was of a window that she remembered from her native Iran, and the other was of flowers cascading over a door.

She created the window piece while undergoing chemotherapy.

Ohaniansaki’s artworks were two of 100 pieces selected and on display at the Pacific Shores Hematology-Oncology Foundation’s free exhibition.

The traveling art exhibition tours the country and has stopped in Glendale the past three years.

The exhibition pays tribute to cancer patients, and their physical and emotional struggles to get through their illnesses. Artworks were created by cancer patients, who expressed themselves on canvas to show their fears, quest for survival and loss of individualism.

Breast cancer patient Asdeghik Topchian of Van Nuys imagined jungles when she painted her flowery artworks.

“I remembered my childhood,” she said.

The bright art pieces showcased her spirit to remain positive through her illness, Topchian said. She only recently started painting after being diagnosed.

“I felt better,” Topchian said. “It made me stay busy and not think about cancer.”

Painting allows cancer patients to feel better about themselves and helps to distract them from the treatment, said Anait Papikyan, who works with patients at the Pacific Shores Hematology-Oncology office.

A blank canvas was on display at the art exhibit, and participants were encouraged to draw an image.

Ovarian cancer survivor Nancy Illian drew a refrigerator with “Xs” and happy faces on the canvas. The Xs, she said, indicated her treatment dates, and the happy face replaced it once the treatment was completed.

“I still have Xs on my refrigerator even though I cleaned them off,” Illian said.

Illian, who is a foundation board member, was emotionally moved by the artworks. She had made a promise to herself when she was diagnosed that she wouldn’t cry over cancer. But when she saw the artworks and the artists’ brief summaries of their pieces, she began to tear up.

“It opens the world,” Illian said. “It really has grounded me.”

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