Hopestone art gallery offers therapeutic treatment, support for local cancer patients, survivors

BARTLESVILLE -- The battle of cancer can be a scary and lonely journey. Jennifer McKissick knows this well. She diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2011.

She was seeking treatment in Bartlesville and MD Anderson, when she learned of an integrative medicine center that offered therapeutic arts for cancer patients.

"It was really good for me to take care of me and do something for me that wasn't treatment from a doctor," McKissick said. "I realized when I was sick there is a lot more we can do for cancer patients then just receiving chemotherapy and radiation."

After her treatment ended in May of last year, McKissick wanted to pass on the tranquility and therapy she received to other cancer patients.

As an anesthesiologist, she worked with colleagues and other cancer survivors to create
Hopestone Wellness and Cancer Support Center and Art Gallery in downtown Bartlesville. The center opened in January.

The facility holds yoga, pottery, tai chi and knitting classes, along with support groups. Each program is free to cancer patients, survivors and caretakers.

"It's very healing," McKissick said. "A lot of people are very isolated. They may be going through treatment and don't have a good support system. They come here and we can help navigate them to things they may be looking for and connect them with other people that might be their age group.

"We have some ladies that have become really good friends that come to the evening art class, and even though it is an art class it's informal it seem like a support group

The local community also makes use of the facility and with "suggested donations" each class, funds are raised to keep the center running.

Artists featured in the gallery also give back to Hopestone.

"They are putting their work up so our place is really pretty, which also feels very healing," McKissick said. "And if they sell any of the art, then 25 percent goes back to the help us pay for the art programs."

Jan Brieschke, a Bartlesville resident and teacher of more than 20 years, is one those artists.

"This has been so exciting," she said. "It has been so fun to work with Jennifer and the people here, and we are doing the community a lot of good."

In the six months that Hopestone has been open, McKissick said she is seeing the same recovery and healing process that she saw in herself during her bout with cancer.

"It's good and empowering to let people know what they can do to help themselves and no just feel like they are doing whatever the doctor are having them do as far as treatment, McKissick said. "It's complimentary to any kind of treatment."

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