The Art of Medicine shows the healing power of the arts

An event to showcase how the arts can be used to enhance patient care and well-being will be held next week.

The Art of Medicine takes place Monday, May 27 at the St. Theresa’s Parish Centre, 285 St. Peters Road in Sydney. It runs from 7-9 p.m. and is organized by the Cape Breton Cancer Centre.

“The cancer centre has a number of projects that use the arts - visual, musical, literary and horticultural - to help our patients contend with their illness and to help others understand the lived experience of being ill,” says Tom McNeil, medical social worker with the centre. “The Art of Medicine is an opportunity to showcase some of what we’ve been doing.”

At this year’s event, John Graham-Pole, MD, MRCP-UK, a retired children’s cancer specialist, author and professor emeritus of Pediatrics, Oncology and Palliative Care with the University of Florida, will talk about the important role the arts can have in health and healing and how he has integrated that into his work and his life.

The event will also highlight a one-act play from the cancer centre’s first ever drama group under the direction of Brian Gallivan as well as selections from Shelley Allen’s music therapy group Silent Thunder.

Also featured are a dance performed by Dr. Sandra Wajstaub, for her husband Henry and Jason LeFrense and Brandon Ferguson’s film the Art of Living.

“We hope people come away from the Art of Medicine more attentive to the patient’s voice as we try to understand the illness experience,” says McNeil. “The arts can encourage that voice. We just have to listen.”

McNeil adds that it’s the support of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation, the cancer centre, volunteers, Brian Gallivan, Alicia Fuller, Shelley Allen and most importantly, the patients who share their stories through art that make the event possible.

Art of Medicine is free, with a free will offering at the door. Seating is limited so register early. To register, contact 902-567-8556.

Event agenda is below.
Media Contact: Tom McNeil, Medical Social Worker, 902-567-8551

AGENDA: The Art of Medicine - Healing the Wounds of Illness

Opening Remarks: Tom McNeil

A Circle of Friends: Selections by Silent Thunder music therapy participants

pARTners in Care: Dr. John Graham-Pole

A Gift of Love for Henry: Dance performance by Dr. Sandra Wajstaub


“The Art of Living”: A film by Jason LeFrense & Brandon Ferguson

One-Act Play: The Tea Bags under the direction of Brian Gallivan

A Circle of Friends: Silent Thunder

Final Thoughts: Tom McNeil