The Blue Lady Pastel by Carla Zwahlen
In the 1980’s my husband and I sat in many waiting- room chairs while our son received treatment for a brain tumor, and later neurosurgery to remove a second brain tumor. At that time I can’t recall a dedicated art program. I do remember drawings the children in pediatrics created.
From 2000 to 2003, it was my husband’s turn to receive chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and surgery for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. During the many visits and hospital stays, we became familiar with the many corridors at the medical center, and in particular, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center Hematology-Oncology corridor.
Usually, on our way to the waiting room, we stopped to admire the artwork. For a moment, the artwork lifted us out of our circumstance. We found it extraordinarily thoughtful for a medical center to have a program using art as a tool to help relieve the stress of difficult life-threatening concerns.
My husband often said to me, “Your paintings should hang here.” I chuckled.
While he underwent a six-hour surgery, my family and I spent some of that time walking the corridors to relieve tense muscles and minds. The artwork while beautiful by itself allowed us to step away from the hospital environment. Surrounded by the works of so many artists we were not placed in a sterile impersonal environment.
With each stop, we found a momentary hiding place from all things medical. The artwork contributed a calmer place. When a family remains calm I believe the family is better able to support their loved one. For us, the artworks became more than decorations to fill empty wall space.
As Werner’s cancer progressed, we had frequent doctor’ visits and hospital stays. During a warm week in June, we spent our last week together. With the gracious help of his medical team, I also made his hospital room home.
Each day I was apprehensive to leave his room for too long. But as the day progressed, my husband encouraged me to go outside and walk. I did. Along the garden path, I met The Blue Lady, sculpted by, Barbara Kaufman.
The Blue Lady stood with her hand on hip and her chin-up. Her stance caught my attention. She seemed to symbolize defiance in the face of something happening in her world. I said to her, “You are looking and waiting for someone too.”
I thought of the one request asked of me by my husband when we started on the cancer journey; “You must be brave.” After that first encounter with The Blue Lady, she reminded me each time I passed her – stand strong against the coming day when…
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center understands the healing elements in art.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Staff functions on a high level of professionalism and medical skill. Patients are not just liver and limbs. Families who sit for long hours in waiting chairs, I believe from my experience, when a hospital offers a visual moment to view artwork instead of non-descript yellow or gray wall one becomes less fatigued and tense.
I am honored I to have had an opportunity to give a thank you to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for all the years the medical staff cared for my family.
The Blue Lady Pastel is located in Oncology Reception, The North Entrance Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH