Nine-year-old Rima has endured lengthy and difficult hospital stays for treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with Philadelphia Chromosome since she was diagnosed in March of 2010. Rima's cancer is one of the rarest there is - only 10 children are diagnosed each year. And while she's ready to be done with the pricks and pokes, tests and treatments, she is bittersweet nonetheless. "Part of me is sad," she says, "because it means that I won't be able to do art with Betsey or play guitar with Colin."
Betsey McLawhorn and Colin Allured are Arts For Life teachers at Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem, and they have been instrumental in transforming Rima's healthcare experience. When Rima first began her treatment, she would work for short periods of time with AFL art teachers, creating a wood and paper flower or decorating a movable horse. Rima eventually discovered everything AFL had to offer, and began to take advantage of the many art projects, supplies, and music at her fingertips.
One afternoon, Rima discovered acrylic paint, and ever since then it has become her medium of choice. Betsey worked with Rima to learn and refine the proper techniques, as the creative young patient shared that she wanted to “become a real artist.” What Rima didn’t know was that she was already a real artist, and her teacher helped her to see this. Rima was full of curiosity and eager to learn, accepting each new opportunity as a chance to explore her new favorite medium. She has become a master at mixing paints, layering colors, and creating realistic scenes from nature.
Music is the other artistic outlet Rima discovered during her hospital stays. She has always loved the sound of a guitar, and experiences a sense of calm when she hears it played. “It sounds so nice and cool at the same time,” she told her teacher. AFL Music Fellow Colin Allured shared his love of guitar with Rima, who has become quite the guitarist since she started lessons with Colin.
Colin says,“Rima is a serious guitar student! And she has some very serious fun when she learns, plays, and “gets it!” She started off learning single-note melodies, such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Amazing Grace, and others that she would memorize and master with incredible speed. And she has quickly progressed to jamming the chords to several rock ‘n’ roll songs, like Blue Suede Shoes, Love Me Do, and Stand By Me. Her dedication and passion for music give joy to all those around her!”
Now when she comes to the hospital, Rima knows there is a blank canvas eager for her to fill with her talent and imagination, and a guitar awaiting her strumming fingertips!