Celebrating Love, Resilience and Creativity in the Face of Cancer

Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance brought together nearly 60 individuals impacted by a gynecologic cancer to participate in special programming earlier this season focused on the documentary “American Symphony,” which explores how the immense love and creative talents of an award-winning artistic couple have helped them cope with cancer’s impact on their lives and relationship.

“American Symphony” follows Suleika Jaouad (an Emmy Award-winning journalist and author of the “New York Times” bestselling memoir “Between Two Kingdoms”) and Jon Batiste (a Grammy- and Oscar-winning composer/musician and the former bandleader on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”) as the couple navigate the return of Suleika’s cancer in the midst of Jon’s accelerating career momentum.

Participants were provided free access to Netflix to watch “American Symphony” on their own time before gathering for a virtual session that involved a group discussion and watercolor activity facilitated by OCRA’s oncology social workers. All registrants were sent a complimentary snack pack that included candy and popcorn, as well as paintbrushes, watercolors and a painting journal.

Get info and register for upcoming Express Yourself, Book Club and other sessions that are part of our Staying Connected Support Series. 

“This special session combined aspects of our Book Club and Express Yourself programming. Participants were able to witness the incredible highs and lows of Suleika Jaouad and Jon Batiste’s personal and professional lives unfold through this powerful Netflix documentary,” said Tracy Moore, LCSW, OCRA’s Vice President of Support & Education.

“The film inspired an impactful group discussion, during which attendees shared their thoughts on the dynamic roles of patient and caregiver as well as the value of music and art as healing expressions, all while experiencing their own cathartic watercolor painting activity.”

See what some participants shared about the movie and the art they created after viewing it. 

“‘American Symphony’ was a beautiful movie to watch with my mom, Lydia, who was a caregiver for me after I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer back in 2020. I know being a caregiver has not always been easy for my mom, but she has always made sure that I keep fighting and stay positive, just as Jon did for his wife, Suleika.” -Danette

“I really enjoyed this documentary. I loved seeing things from the co-survivor/caregiver perspective since sometimes it’s hard to see that [viewpoint] through our own chaos that is cancer.” -Carrie

“After watching ‘American Symphony,’ I did a deeper dive into Suleika and found images of her dream paintings. It made me interested in painting my dreams of my wild animal friends who visited me throughout my cancer journey.” -Cindy

“My painting reflects the light, new growth, and the dark with storm clouds and falling leaves. ‘American Symphony’ holds space for both the dark and the light, allowing the viewer to experience both.  Not shying away from the difficult moments; understanding that there is growth in the darkness.” -Joanne

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