A Heuristic Arts-Based Study on the Impact of Long-Term and Late Effects of Cancer on Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors

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Kolodziej, Lisa
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
The adolescent and young adult population is an overlooked group when it comes to resources for coping with the distress of having and surviving cancer. Although the art therapy literature documents the value of art therapy for children and adults with cancer, few resources focus on the usefulness of art therapy in addressing the needs of survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers. Through an arts-based heuristic inquiry, the researcher, a survivor of adolescent cancer, re-envisioned and recreated a personal image that held great meaning in her experience of cancer survival. Following Moustakas’ (1990) six phases of heuristic inquiry, the researcher investigated the usefulness of personal art making for coping with the lasting effects of a cancer diagnosis. As a result, the researcher noted three major themes relating to body image and identity, interruption, and acceptance. The researcher discusses these themes and the implications they may have for other survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers. The researcher offers recommendations that may provide a starting point for the utilization of art therapy with this population.