Nobody has ever said that pink walls and pastel artwork helps those with cancer cope.
This is her story:
Have you ever wondered who chooses the artwork hung in your doctors’ offices? The first time it occurred to me was when I had an ultrasound on my breast–having already been diagnosed with breast cancer (my daughter was 8 months old, my son was 3). The walls were pink, the paperwork was pink, the robes were pink. And on the walls held ungodly Georgia O’Keefe knock-offs. You know what I am talking about…the “blossoming flower” (wink wink).
In the “Women’s Imaging” center that day, the color scheme and fallopian-tube flower work was as if to say “Hi, you have cancer, but if you gaze long enough upon theses soothing feminine images, you won’t mind as much.”
Two months later, I visited my mother at the at a prominent cancer treatment facility 90 miles away. She had been diagnosed Stage IV colon cancer only a few weeks before my breast cancer diagnosis. I walked into a wide, long room hosting at least thirty patients in big, lazy-boy recliners. Each person was “under the bag” (cancer-speak for getting chemotherapy), faced toward the center of the room where sat the biggest fish tank I have ever seen. I mean, it was obscenely big—jutting out into the middle of the room in all of its aquatic resplendence like a big middle finger flipping off every cancer patient.
All of those people, their lives distilled down to hours spend under a chemo bag force-fed aquatic serenity—as if they were children in a pediatrician’s office—easily distracted by shiny bright objects floating in water. Something tells me not one of those people felt better about the fact they were getting chemo because they were looking at a fish.
When I stepped into one of the private rooms to see my mom she, too, reclined in a chemo chair—sick. A whisper of the woman she once was. And above her, one badly painted picture of…a lily pad. I went on over the next few months to my own cancer treatment. I took notice of the floor to ceiling photographic murals of “peaceful scenes” in my oncologists’ minuscule examination rooms.
When I lay down on the table my toes nearly touch the nose of a fuzzy bunny in a field in Exam Room 1; a doe grazing in the dew of a spring morning in Exam Room 3; or the tepid water of the pond holding LILY PADS. Right next to the medical chart of the female reproductive system is an 8foot x 8foot wall of LILY PADS!!!!!
I kid you not.
I thought it mere coincidence until I was received further treatment at a nationally renown university cancer center. Waiting room? Fish tank. Exam room? LILY PADS!
By this time I’m pretty sure these lily pads and fish tanks are some sort of secret code for kind of insurance we all have. Or portals into a fourth dimension. What is the art work like at HIV clinics, or pediatric cancer units, or prostate cancer centers? Thrusting erect shapes in dominant tones? Exactly how is someone else interpreting our fears for us and prescribing certain images to calm us?
I don’t know about you, but when I walk into my oncologist’s office I need to either see Lenny Kravitz working behind a Starbucks cart or Johnnie Depp, shirtless, handing out Valium if they want me to get my mind off of why I am there. Fish tanks, lily pads and Procrit squeeze balls key holders to the women’s room don’t cut it.
Can you imagine if every woman diagnosed with cancer walked into a doctor’s examination room and given paint and a blank wall? I doubt we would find one freaking lily pad…ever. What would you paint on your doctors’ walls? What would your mother have painted on the walls of her doctor’s offices?
And don’t get me started on the images for pregnant women…I have been a birth professional for nearly a decade, and I have NEVER seen a woman dilate more when gazing upon a protruding petunia.
Screw the pastels—we are women for god’s sake, stronger than any other element in nature.
I think we can handle primary colors.