The Italian Almanac

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Carla Fracci

Art Therapy

Former La Scala prima ballerina Carla Fracci has made an appeal to fellow artists to lend their support to a program which uses various forms of art as therapy, especially for cancer patients. Fracci made her appeal after being named as a spokeswoman for the project and she said she accepted ''as my small contribution to an approach which has impressed me greatly.I hope that artists in all fields hear this message and lend their time and effort to this activity''.

The project was set up in 2003 at the Milan-based National Cancer Institute (INT) and is the brainchild of oncologist Carla Ripamonti. According to Ripamonti, art not only helps 'heal the soul' but also helps people cope with their diseases. Studies have shown that patients suffer less pain when they are engaged in artistic activities and many cancer patients here take part in such activities before undergoing cycles of chemo treatment''.

The artistic lab which has been set up at the INT ''is a place where patients like to be because they can join with others in creating something together. Even after completing their treatment, some patients return to the lab to lend a hand. What is important is for patients to review their lives through art therapy, using their illness as a means to highlight the positive aspects of their existence,'' observed lab therapist Tiziana Manusardi.

''Being part of an artistic process is very important for those who suffer. Working with others helps patients create a sense of 'normality' and to achieve a serenity with which to confront the pain of their illness and its treatment,'' said INT Chairman Carlo Borsani.