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Breast cancer survivor providing art classes for other patients

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Posted at 7:35 PM, Jun 04, 2021

Kathleen McKinnon is giving back to those going through the same treatments she went through by offering art therapy classes.

McKinnon is a breast cancer survivor who beat the disease five years after her diagnosis.

McKinnon said, “Five years ago, I had an educational consulting business called Harmony School House. Business was going great, everything was going perfectly, and then I got a cancer diagnosis.”

From the sadness and pain of her diagnosis came an idea to power through the difficult times through art.

McKinnon said, “I just went home and created an art journal and I just got so much healing and well-being from the creation of that journal. What I needed to do was share with the others the gift of creating and how that really helps support our well-being.”

With the idea in mind to use art as therapy, McKinnon soon found her art as a way for others with cancer to cope as well.

McKinnon said, “I found mixed-media collage. I found as I was producing and building and creating that it was a path and a process.”

Marriage and Family Therapist Marian Willingham said, “When Kathleen started doing the collaging process, and her office is right next to my office, I thought it would be great to refer clients to her.”

Cancer survivor Cynthia Siquig said, “This program really helped me in my recovery.”

McKinnon began connecting cancer patients from the Hearst Cancer Resource Center in San Luis Obispo.

Education Resource Coordinator for the Hearst Cancer Resource Center at French Hospital Cynthia Shade said, “She is so gifted and intuitive, and she gives them the opportunity without them even knowing to uncover some of those hidden feelings and emotions.”

Willingham said, “They can be guided through an art process that will benefit them and help them heal.”

Shade said, “Without knowing that there is a burden of cost added to it, it is so huge for the patients.”

Siquig said, “I was greatly missing the bond that we all shared together.”

McKinnon said, “You have to let go of your life before the trauma happened and you have to work through the stuff that you encounter as you go through it.”

McKinnon will be on Zoom Tuesday, June 8 at 5 p.m. for the Hearst Cancer Resource Center.

For more information on McKinnon’s classes or to follow her journey, visit her website at harmonyschoolhouse.com.