“For about 20 years, I was a consultant and working in the solid waste management industry,” said Miriam Zimms. “I had a health issue come up which was breast cancer. But I had a second cancer three years later, second un-related. This one was a biggie.”
At that moment, Zimms’ extremely active lifestyle came to a grinding halt.
“I was told I was going to have my left pelvis removed and rebuilt. It was going to require that I spend a lot of time flat and in bed recovering,” said Zimms.
Amanda Bonanno is the Arts in Medicine Coordinator at Moffitt and showed ABC Action News the Arts in Medicine Studio. She explains the program doesn’t have set goals.
“Art for healing and self-discovery…it is really about letting go of control. It’s 100 percent focused on the process versus the product,” said Bonanno.
Kristin Beauvois is one of the artists in residence working in the Art in Medicine studio.
“Times that may be very anxious for patients, it lets them kind of unplug and go to a space that is more relaxing,” said Beauvois.
At the time Zimms was going through her second cancer treatment at Moffitt, her doctors suggested this program.
“I tried it and I didn’t like it. They said, ‘why don’t you just try it again.’ I did and behold I created like 300 pieces,” said Zimms.
“Miriam Zimms is a perfect example of a person who came in here, started on one thing and then it led to another and she has just taken off with it,” said Bonanno.
“My husband said, ‘wow Miriam you are really talented.’ I said, ‘oh he loves me,’” said Zimms.
What started as a way to relax turned into gallery shows, teaching in the community, and an entirely 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,” said Zimms.
“It’s helped me to really manifest out feelings and put it into pen and ink and get it out of me, I enjoy drawing patterns. There is something about that rhythm – that rhythmic flow or drawing that repetition for me. It slows my mind down,” said Zimms.
Zimms is now nine years cancer-free and preaching the message, “feel, act, and speak.” She says early detection for diseases like cancer is key.
The studio at Moffitt is open Monday through Friday. The Artists in Residence also have a cart they bring around to patients’ rooms.