Sunday, June 24, 2007

Arts and Cancer, Wellspring Helps Support Cancer Patients and Caregivers

Wellspring Offers Supportive Programs and Art Therapies

I recently heard from Daniel Lockwood, Program Manager at Wellspring, the cancer support centre in London, Ontario. Wellspring has opened an additional new location in Stratford, Ontario on the premises of The Quilt Project, 55 Downie Street in Stratford. The centre offers Peer Support daily from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., Yoga and Journaling as well as a Resource and Lending-Library.

The History of Wellspring

"Wellspring founder Anne Armstrong Gibson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Along with all the other fears about treatment, survival and the future of her husband and two young children, she experienced something more, an overwhelming sense of isolation. She quickly realized that this was an all-too-common experience among cancer patients, and became determined to fill the void. With the help and encouragement of some of the leading experts in the field of oncology, Anne worked with family, friends and supporters to establish Wellspring, a non-profit organization offering psychological, emotional, social, spiritual and informational support to individuals and families living with cancer.Anne's vision for Wellspring was to create a Canada-wide network of community-based centres that would provide people with the tools they required to cope with cancer. In 1992, Wellspring opened its first centre, The Coach House, on Wellesley Street East in Toronto. In 1999, Wellspring launched its second centre, in north Toronto, on the campus of Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Sciences Centre. Over the following two years, centres serving the regions of Halton-Peel, Niagara and London, Ontario all opened their doors. Although Anne died in 1995, her vision still guides the organization toward achieving a network that will one day span across Canada."
excerpt from website at

Wellspring offers many helpful and supportive programs such as a coping skills program, discussion series as well as expressive arts programs among them Art and Music therapy.
The organization critically evaluates all programs and conducts research into broader topics in supportive care. The programs and centres are guided by The Wellspring Model, which is based on the goal of effectively meeting the diverse supportive care needs of as many cancer patients and caregivers as possible.

Wellspring is able to provide comfort, support, education and coping skills to a growing number of men, women and children who are living with cancer. Their network registered over 30,000 visits last year, and that number continues to grow. All programs are free of charge for individuals and families living with cancer, and Wellspring receives no core or government funding.

Wellspring offers:

  • High-quality supportive care programming for people with any type of cancer

  • Programs for children whose parents have cancer

  • Support, coping skills and information for the partners, sibling, friends, parents, and other caregivers of cancer patients

  • Childcare and transportation services for families seeking cancer support at Wellspring Halton-Peel

  • Specialized programs for people facing cancer in the Chinese, Aboriginal, Gay and Lesbian communities

  • Volunteer development and support

Read an article about Wellspring, London at featuring interviews with Wellspring, London Executive Director, Shelley Markland and
London Art Therapist, Wanda Sawicki

If you would like to support Wellspring, information about donations can also be found at the website.

"Art, because it's a creative thing, pulls something out of you that is really life-giving and life-promoting," says Sawicki, "and that's a moving thing to see at a time in your life when you are facing possible death."
Wanda Sawicki, Art Therapist