“A Therapeutic Gift”: Art Helps a 6-Year-Old Cope with Cancer Treatment

When Colton McGowan experienced abdominal pain, his parents, Rich and Amy, took him to their local emergency care center. It was the start of a long and anxious journey for the six-year-old and his family.

But it was a journey that would end up giving Colton a gift for life – the gift of art.

A frightening diagnosis

Tests at the emergency care facility showed Colton had a lump on his lung, and he was immediately referred to CS Mott Children’s Hospital for treatment.

“We were here for at least a week, when they did a biopsy and a few other tests,” said Rich McGowan, who works at the Kellogg Eye Center Optical Shop.

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Tests revealed stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a frightening diagnosis, but a highly treatable form of cancer.

Team work

From doctors and bedside nurses to social workers and child life specialists, an entire team has come together to help treat Colton. It is this latter group that may have ended up having the most impact.

“On the last day of our hospitalization, they took Colton to the art room and introduced him to painting,” said Rich. “We had watched Bob Ross videos together so he knew he wanted to try it.”

The results spoke for themselves.

“Everyone in the room was amazed at what he painted, a mountain scene he gave his mother for Mother’s Day,” Rich said.

This table, called Colton Mountain, won an honorable mention in a recent Art gifts Employee art exhibition. But even more gratifying was what the artwork represented and provided for the McGowan family.

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