Art Offers a Distraction for Kids Getting Therapy; and When the Treatment Is for a Brain Tumor, a Time for Fun Is Key

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Byline: Charlie Patton

At 3, Camille Shave has clear notions about what she likes and what she doesn't.

She likes doing art. Undergoing radiation treatments for the brain tumor she has been battling for most of her short life isn't nearly as much fun.

So when her dad got the phone call telling him it was time for Camille's latest treatment at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute, located in the Shands Jacksonville complex, Camille wasn't happy.

She hadn't finished her latest collage in the small art room located off the Proton Therapy's Institute lobby. As Camille's mom, Haley Shave, swept her daughter into her arms to take her to the treatment, Camille howled with displeasure.

"Having a little haven has been good fun for them," said Martin Shave, referring both to Camille and to her older sister, Lucia, 5.

The Shaves, who are from Ipswich, England, were near the end of a six-week stay in Jacksonville so Camille could undergo proton therapy, a form of radiation treatment of cancerous tumors. Camille, who has a brain tumor, has already undergone three surgeries as well as chemotherapy in her native England.

Making the long Jacksonville stay a little easier has been the job of Chrys Yates, who since January has been artist-in-residence at the Proton Therapy Institute.

Her work is supported by a $16,000 grant from Livestrong's Community Impact Project. Livestrong, the foundation started by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, the champion bicyclist, awarded grants through this program to 55 communities based on an online voting campaign.

Yates is an experienced arts educator who was associate director of education from 1996 to 2006 at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. She's still a contract employee there and is lead artist on Kids Together Against Cancer, a program for children whose parents have cancer.

Yates said what she is doing at Shands isn't so much art therapy as "a really great distraction."

It's not just kids receiving treatment with whom she works, she said.

Siblings, adults and even caregivers are welcome to visit her art room and lose themselves in a project for a couple of hours. While Camille was working on a collage, her dad was making a bracelet for Lucia. …