Coloring books help cancer patients bear chemotherapy treatments

The practice is 'therapeutic'

CINCINNATI -- According to UC Health officials, coloring -- your favorite pastime from the halcyon days of kindergarten -- has become a popular practice among patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Rachel Dunaway, a survivor of cervical cancer, once had chemotherapy three times a week. She spent her appointments coloring to keep her thoughts occupied and her hands too busy to type anxiety-driven questions into her smartphone.

"It's kind of nerve-wracking because you have the hospital smell (and) all the beeps and boops going on when everybody's in here," Dunaway said. "It can be a total zen moment to just be like, ‘I created something beautiful.'"

According to Bridie Orr, clinical operations manager for the hematology-oncology department, many other patients use the same strategy to stay busy, engaged and positive while they receive treatment.

"It's very therapeutic," Orr said. "The patients are here for sometimes hours a day, multiple days a week. It allows them to escape the reality that they have cancer."

Dunaway, who finished her chemotherapy in March, encourages cancer patients to remain optimistic throughout their treatment. Whether that means listening to favorite music or rediscovering a childhood pastime, any step that helps a person with cancer hold on to hope and positivity is worthwhile. 

"Anything you can do stay positive will get you through it," Dunaway said.

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