Blue Bell Native Turns to Finger-Painting in Her Battle With Cancer

Sarah Frank tells us about how a newfound love of finger painting helps her cope with her day to day struggles with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Frank

Photo courtesy of Sarah Frank

Sarah Frank, of Blue Bell, Pa., was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March of this year. Upon first hearing the devastating news, the 23-year-old was told her chances of being cured were 80 to 90 percent. However, she relapsed back in August and was forced to go on leave in her last year at Drexel University when her chances of survival dropped to around 40 percent. Frank has since undertaken a form of art therapy to help her cope.

An example of one of Frank's floral paintings.

An example of one of Frank’s floral paintings.

“I long for a sense of control, but it’s hard to find it in much: not in my own health, not in others’ reactions to my situation, not in how I feel physically and emotionally day-to-day,” says Frank. “Making art takes me out of my own head and gives me a break from the chaos of the outside world. It gives me the chance to focus on something totally my own, totally within my control.”

The young artist first stumbled upon finger-painting a few years back when she was suffering with depression. She turned to acrylics as a method of escape from the chaos and anxiety. “Its an activity kindergarteners embrace. I figured I couldn’t fail, and I had the potential to surprise myself.” Surprise herself, she did. Frank continues to embrace the craft today in her more recent battle with Hodgkin’s — and come to find out, she has a real talent for it.

The kinesthetic techniques and the tangible feelings of the paint on her fingers are all part of the therapy. “I’ve always been a physically sensitive person, so it didn’t surprise me that I derive such enjoyment from the process,” says Frank. “It’s almost nirvana.”

Frank has made over $1,500 selling her paintings. Her work is highly impressionistic, inspired by artists like Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and palette knife artist Leonid Afremov. She says her work is often chaotic and always vibrant. Floral arrangements are her main subject matter these days.

One of Frank's newer abstract works, which she points out TK.

One of Frank’s newer abstract works, which she points out “looks like my floral arrangements if they were deconstructed and warped.”

“There’s something so peaceful about a brightly colored arrangement of them blooming in a vase on a countertop by a window. Flowers, to me, invoke serenity and joy, and I think the world could use a lot more of that,” she says.

As of late, she has also begun experimenting with more abstract works, using just her fingers and the blunt end of a brush. “The result usually ends up looking like my floral arrangements if they were deconstructed and warped somehow,” she says.  She posts most of her work on her official website, which can be found here.

The young artist has been through many different treatments, none of which have worked to the full extent. The next step in her unwavering fight against cancer is a new chemotherapy regime. This will be a costly procedure. To learn more about Frank (who has been known to commission some of her works) and help assist her in her battle against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, visit her GoFundMe page.

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