Advocacy and Education Through Art
Education is the cornerstone of cancer prevention in our society. Head and neck cancer has seen an alarming increase in cases – especially those linked to the Human papillomavirus (HPV). Upstate has been instrumental in the care and prognosis of head and neck patients in CNY and a team of interested personnel, patients, and volunteers have developed a creative way to educate the community on the disease.
In order to administer the radiation, each patient must be fitted with a polymer mesh mask that conforms to their head and neck. Once the treatments are finished, the mask is either given to the patient or, in most cases, destroyed. In other parts of the country these masks have become canvases for unique and creative art and subsequently opportunities for education.
Origins of beneath the surFACE
Originally the program was presented to several middle and high school health classes. We also partnered with art classes in a unique project that educated and brought awareness. Students were allowed to take creative license in the creation of masks through their art classes and learn about Head and Neck cancer. Canvases of the radiation masks make for a unique display of what patients might experience during their treatment. The masks were then auctioned in order to raise funds for patients of Head and Neck Cancer.
The participation and response was overwhelmingly positive from all involved. Several schools requested the presentation materials in order to teach it in their own classes. Based on these requests, we have created highly pertinent digital content that is easy to use and navigate.