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Louisville breast cancer survivor uses art therapy to connect with other patients

Finger painting, crocheting and meditative doodling are some of the outlets Expressive Art Therapist Laura Chamberlin uses with her oncology patients.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — No matter your diagnosis, art is therapy. It's a way to mentally escape from the fear and trauma cancer can have on a person.

Finger painting, crocheting and meditative doodling are just some of the outlets Expressive Art Therapist Laura Chamberlin uses with her oncology patients who come to her through the Norton Cancer Institute. Chamberlin said it's sometimes just about a distraction.

"I want to give them a space where they can let their guard down and be vulnerable," Chamberlin said.

She spends her days with cancer patients both in and outside the hospital.

"A huge part of my role is helping them process their feelings. They can talk about being angry, sad, or tired, whatever it is they're carrying," Chamberlin said.

Chamberlin understands the load is a heavy one.

"Because I've been there. I've been in that position and know how hard it is to be a patient," she said.

Chamberlin was diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age, just 28 years old. When her patients come in with the same diagnosis, it's often one of the first things she mentions.

"I think there's this deep connection when they know you've walked along that same path," she said.

Hers took her on a journey through chemo, a double mastectomy, and reconstruction. Even then, it was her passion for art that helped her get through it. 

Today, she teaches others how to do the same.

"I think our suffering can be a kind of gift and lead you to ways to help other people. If I can make it just a tiny bit easier for somebody, then yeah, that's a big deal for me," she said.

Contact reporter Brooke Hasch atbhasch@whas11.com. Follow her onTwitter (@WHAS11Hasch) andFacebook.

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