Many of us have a personal experience with cancer, whether we’re living with it or have seen a friend or loved one experience it. We know it can bring fear, frustration and loneliness — but finding connection can help. Countless Americans are on this journey together and can work with one another to change the perception of living with cancer.
Living Proof Exhibit, one of CMSS’s recent partners, is at the forefront of connecting patients, survivors, families and caregivers with the support they need to overcome cancer.
What is Living Proof Exhibit?
Living Proof Exhibit provides the therapeutic benefits of the arts to those impacted by cancer. Based in the Quad Cities, the nonprofit provides monthly creative sessions, an annual exhibition of art by cancer survivors for cancer survivors, art-to-go projects and virtual museum tours. Today, they support communities across the country including in Illinois, Kentucky, Texas and California.
Pamela Crouch, executive director of Living Proof Exhibit, witnessed firsthand the impact of cancer. A four-time cancer survivor, she received her first diagnosis in 2008. She began building and painting birdhouses and sharing them with others impacted by cancer. Crouch quickly realized that helping others was a powerful tool to make herself feel better. Shortly after, the Living Proof Exhibit was founded and the idea of the Birdhouse Project was born.
The Birdhouse Project is an opportunity for individuals or communities to order decorative birdhouses from hobby storest and paint them. These birdhouses are then given to individuals in cancer treatment centers; each with its own message of hope. When John Gould, corporate director of dining and life enrichment at CMSS, met Crouch at a virtual Livestrong Icon Summit in mid-October, he recognized that the Birdhouse Project would be a welcomed program in the CMSS community.
CMSS’ Partnership with Living Proof Exhibit
Less than three months after initially meeting Crouch, Gould and Jenn Ross, art programming coordinator for CMSS, brought the creative activity to CMSS. Over 100 birdhouses were ordered for residents to decorate and write messages on in January. The birdhouses will be distributed to people in Chicago who’ve been impacted by cancer with a few of them going up for display in the CMSS communities. Crouch says this is the first time The Birdhouse Project has come to Chicago and is moved by the response.
“To have a strong partnership in Chicago is wonderful,” Crouch said. “I look forward to seeing where our relationship with CMSS goes.”