Breast cancer survivors, fighters discover power of healing from creating art

Women who are survivors or fighters of breast cancer are discovering the healing power of creating art. And now a New Jersey arts program is helping participants to help their bodies and minds.
Michele Schwartz says that she remembers the moment that changed her life.
“I went from maternity leave to disability in a matter of weeks,” she says. “I found the lumps myself.”
Schwartz was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 37 years old. It was months after the birth of her second child.
With her treatment completed, Schwartz says that she then embarked on an emotional recovery along with other former or current cancer patients through the Healing Arts program at the Princeton YWCA. It is a free program.
“Sometimes it can be so hard to get the courage to pick up that paint brush, but they can make meaningful and powerful art and it can be healing in the process,” says art instructor Danielle Nolan.
Nolan is now leading participants on Zoom because of the pandemic. Artwork created in the program is arriving at the Princeton YWCA. It will be auctioned off to raise money for the YWCA’s Breast Cancer Resource Center. The “Beyond Pink Art Show” is a virtual event that begins on Oct. 31.
The show includes casts made from the busts of cancer patients that have been turned into works of art. Schwartz says that making hers following her surgery was an empowering experience.
“It was just so liberating and so freeing and it was such an amazing experience. This is me now. And I’m proud of who I am now,” she says.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ticket information for the virtual art show can be found on the Princeton YWCA website.