Surrounded by brushes and every color of paint you could imagine, the canvas in front of Ruth Rave will not be blank for long.
"Things I have in my head and I can put it on paper and be able to, it's an expression," Rave said.
Rave is enrolled in a painting class through a program called Arts Escape at the Avera Cancer Institute. After everything she has been through while fighting stage three breast cancer, Rave said it is nice to focus on color rather than chemo.
"At this point, you really need to take some time and recover. Everything they do to you, it's healing you, but it knocks you so far down," Rave said.
Avera has collaborated with the Sioux Falls Arts Council to bring Arts Escape to life. It is a series of art-focused workshops, which includes painting, music and theatre classes. Not only are the sessions open and free for anyone who is battling cancer, they are also designed for survivors and anyone who has supported someone going through cancer. If you have been affected by cancer, you are welcome here.
"The idea is not to come and talk about cancer. It's not about therapy sessions, where you're going to divulge your issues. It's just a time to have fun and enjoy yourself," Carol Rogers, an Art Therapist at Avera, said.
That is just the type of therapy that Tim Vogl wants for his students and for himself.
"I went through quite a journey. Walked through the valley of the shadow," Vogl said.
Vogl was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer two years ago. Not only has he had hormone treatment and six months of chemotherapy, he also suffered a heart attack during the process. After his diagnosis, he gave up art. He finally felt ready to get back to it, and he said being in front of a classroom again reminds that he is not just a cancer patient.
"I guess life is what keeps me going. The will to live. I don't want to miss the party. I still have things I want to do. I still have a family. I mean, there are still so many things I still want to do," Vogl said.
It may not be a traditional way to treat cancer, but Rave said just painting a canvas helps her focus on what is in front of her.
"It's just good to be alive. It's good to wake up every morning," Rave said. "Chemo was so hard, and you lay in bed. You lay there, and you, I didn't really think about, 'Oh, I' m going to be able to do that again.' It was more like, 'I'm out of here. I'm done.' To be able to do it is very important."