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Art Therapy Helps Cancer Patients Navigate Their Emotional Journey

Barbara Dzurny of Mt. Arlington stood by her painting of one of her happy places, a beach. 'Art Therapy brings out different things at different times,' she said. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Evangeline Choi painted 'Garden of Healing,' filled with bright colors. Her painting was one of many made by cancer survivors and caregivers who took part in Art Therapy courses Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Elizabeth McLain of Roxbury described her painting as a map of her cancer journey, from black after her diagnosis, to the blue of hope, green of growth, and some gray, for 'When doubt creeps in.' Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Helena Alexrod of Chatham Borough between two of her paintings. At left, 'A Childhood Memory,' and on the right, 'My Cancer Journey,' which she said shows 'a lot of ups and downs,' Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Shields Maier of Stirling, her late husband's caregiver, painted 'Outside the Window,' which depicts a sense of hope. Credits: Barbara Rybolt

MORRISTOWN, NJ - What happens when you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer? One thing is certain, your world will be turned upside down and, despite your best efforts to be calm and carry on, it's likely you will be pummeled by the full range of emotions - fear, anger, bitterness, hope, despair and more.

Art therapists help people find a way to express their emotions and, in the process, find hope, a new way to cope or even transform their life.

And, make no mistake about it, credentialed art therapists are just that, therapists. They work with their clients to help them find a way to identify, explore and express emotions they can't speak about or, sometimes don't even realize exist.

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On Monday, the latest exhibit at Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, “Explorations through Art Therapy,” opened with an Artists Reception in the center’s lobby.

Art Therapist Cathy Meier Asher, MA, ATR-BC-LCAT, is the Cancer Center’s Art Therapist. She runs art therapy groups with clients at the center and infusion and inpatient individual sessions. Using gentle directives, she helps clients express themselves through art.

During the reception, several artists described their paintings and what they felt while making them.

Shelda Maier of Stirling, her late husband Chuck Drew's caregiver, talked about two of her paintings in the exhibit. Shortly after she signed palliative care papers, Asher handed her a mandala, a blank circle in a square. Maier said, “I painted a great big, black “WIDOW” inside the circle.” Around the word, she shaded in dark colors, but “I left the middle part (of the D and O) white … It represented hope,” and was like a window out of the darkness.

Her second piece in the show was done much later. Called 'Outside the Window,' it shows trees, clouds, grass and blue sky. “I just now am realizing both have to do with windows,” she said.

Meier said working in a circle “helps center the mind and body.”

Other guided paintings reflected the emotions felt by the artists on their cancer journey, others the healing process or a childhood memory. Even when the subject was the same, each painting was unique.

Members of Chatham Twig, the volunteer organization that provides volunteer and financial support to the Cancer Center, Goryeb Children's Hospital, and the Women's Association for Morristown Medical Center attended the opening and gave each artist a gift package of a candle, with a note, and a journal, said Samantha Ekert, the group’s president.

Representatives of Subaru, as part of their Subaru Loves to Care initiative, and their partners, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, donated a blanket and a note signed by a Subaru employee or customer to each of the artists, as well as art baskets that Meier will use with her new art therapy clients.

The Art Show is on the main floor of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, 100 Madison Ave., Morristown. It is open to the public and continues through August 1. Art Therapy is one of many programs offered at the center through the Integrative Medicine program.


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Sparta Police: Failure to Keep Right Ends with Two in Jail

March 19, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Two people from Dingman’s Ferry are facing charges for drugs and other issues after a traffic stop on Route 15.  On March 16 around 12:45 a.m. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped Cory Parker, 34, for failing to keep right, police report.

The officer smelled raw marijuana when speaking with Parker in the red four door Ford.  The passenger, 35-0year-old Lindsey Hutchinson ...

Sparta Police Pick Up Franklin Woman Driving While Suspended

SPARTA, NJ – A traffic stop yielded an arrest for driving with a suspended license for a Franklin woman.  On March 13 around 11:30 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Timothy Lynott stopped Christina Bradford on Route 15 for having a broken tail light on her gray GMC pickup, police report.

When the officer checked her credentials, he found Bradford’s license had been suspended and she ...

Sparta Police: Bronx Man Delivering Car Finds Himself in Trouble

SPARTA, NJ – A man from Bronx, New York was arrested on a myriad of charges stemming from his attempt to deliver a used car to Montague.  Jorge Villanueva caught the attention of Sparta Police Officer Erick Finley on Route 15 because his Nissan Pathfinder had a cracked taillight, police say.

On March 13 around 7:22 p.m. the officer found the license plate on the Pathfinder was ...

5 Tips for elected officials

March 9, 2018

Dear Editor,

Wayne Levante, a self-described moderate, business-friendly mayor of Newton since his appointment 8 months ago, has been mired by one misstep and controversy after another.  From peddling debunked conspiracy theories about student “crisis actors” in the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting on social media, attacking residents and calling them ...


March 11, 2018



Republican Freeholder Candidates, Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg commended the District 24 Legislators for taking action in the wake of the horrific school shooting that took the lives of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.   


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Upcoming Events


Tue, March 20, 6:30 PM

Sparta United Methodist Church, Sparta

Girl Scout STEAM Program

Arts & Entertainment Education


Sat, March 24, 9:30 AM

Sparta Recreation Department, Sparta

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 10:30 AM

Dykstra Park, Sparta

UNICO Easter Egg Hunt

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

McKenna Hall, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Sparta

Night with NJ Giants #53 Harry Carson Beefsteak


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

Perona Farms, Sparta

Trout Unlimited Annual Fund Raising Banquet

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Fri, April 13, 5:00 PM

Sparta High School Auditorium, Sparta

2nd Annual Jazz Festival at Sparta High School

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, April 14, 9:00 AM


Jr Lions Football - Meet & Greet

Education Sports

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Newton’s Spring Street Turned Green for a Day for St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 19, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—Despite the semi-chilly weather, residents from Newton, Sparta, Andover, Green, and all over Sussex County gathered on Spring Street, dressed in green for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

This year was Sussex County’s 15th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and had over 941 people marching in it, 79 vehicles, six floats and about 45 animals.

The ...

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Team Nest Builder knows sleep deprivation leads to a myriad of problems, so we’re here to help you make your New Jersey home bedrooms the havens you deserve! Take a look at these simple ideas for increasing your zzzzz’s:

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Employ a large area rug that covers the entire room to help absorb sound and enhance comfort.

Feeling Blue

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4 Top Reasons NOW Is A Great Time To Buy A New Jersey Home

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CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices appreciated by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% over the next year.  The bottom in home prices came and left. Home values will ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Sparta High School Hosts Second Annual Jazz Festival

March 19, 2018

SPARTA, NJ - The award-winning music department of Sparta High School is hosting its second annual Jazz Festival on Friday, April 13, 2018. The event gathers fifteen top jazz bands from northern New Jersey, who compete for group and individual ratings.

The Festival will once again take place in the modern, thousand-seat auditorium of Sparta High School, where the township’s jazz bands ...