“For about 20 years I consulted and worked in the solid waste management industry,” said Miriam Zimms. “I had one health issue which was breast cancer. But I had a second cancer three years later, a second unrelated one. This one was a biggie.
At this point, Zimms’ extremely active lifestyle came to an abrupt halt.
“I was told I was going to have my left pelvis removed and reconstructed. It was going to require me to spend a lot of time flat and in bed recovering,” Zimms said.
Amanda Bonanno is the Arts in Medicine Coordinator at Moffitt and showed ABC Action News the Arts in Medicine studio. She explains that the program has no set goals.
“Art for healing and self-discovery…it’s really about letting go of control. It’s 100% process-driven rather than product-driven,” Bonanno said.
Kristin Beauvois is one of the artists in residence of the Art in Medicine studio.
“Times that can be very anxious for patients, it kind of allows them to unplug and go to a more relaxing space,” Beauvois said.
When Zimms was undergoing his second cancer treatment at Moffitt, his doctors suggested the program to him.
“I tried and I didn’t like it. They said, ‘why don’t you try again.’ I did, and behold, I created about 300 pieces,” Zimms said.
“Miriam Zimms is the perfect example of a person who came here, started one thing, then it led to another and it just took off,” Bonanno said.
“My husband said, ‘wow Miriam you’re really good.’ I said, ‘oh he loves me,’ Zimms said.
What started as a way to unwind turned into gallery exhibits, teaching in the community and a whole new career when her previous one was no longer an option due to cancer treatment and recovery. .
“It just evolved into a whole new life for me,” Zimms said.
“It’s helped me to really manifest feelings and put them in pen and ink and get them out of me, I like to draw patterns. There’s something about this rhythm – this rhythmic flow or pattern this repetition for me. It slows my mind,” Zimms said.
Zimms has now been cancer-free for nine years and preaches the “feel, act and speak” message. She says early detection of diseases like cancer is essential.
Moffitt’s studio is open Monday through Friday. Artists in residence also have a cart that they bring to patient rooms.