Participants rehearse at the UAB Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center to prepare for "Raising Our Voices" on Saturday, March 14. (Photo courtesy of Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater)Participants rehearse at the UAB Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center to prepare for "Raising Our Voices" on Saturday, March 14. (Photo courtesy of the UAB Institute for Arts in Medicine)

Editor's Note: This event has been postponed as of March 12, 2020. This story will be updated when a new date is set.

The UAB Institute for Arts in Medicine provides a variety of opportunities for patients to experience healing through the arts. Most recently, AIM, in partnership with the Stuart Pimsler Dance Theater, introduced a new creative dance program for Alabamians impacted by cancer, “Raising Our Voices: Stories of Cancer told through Movement, Music and Voice.”

Through this program, cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and physicians will perform a series of original dances inspired by their own stories. Among these participants is Carolina Salvador, M.D., director of the UAB Integrative Medicine Clinic and associate scientist in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. 

Integrative Medicine and AIM share similar philosophies on incorporating the arts into a patient’s medical treatment plan to improve quality of life and facilitate healing throughout the cancer journey. AIM has a strong presence within the UAB Integrative Medicine Clinic, where AIM artists have been working directly with cancer patients since the clinic opened three years ago.

Carolina Salvador, M.D.Carolina Salvador, M.D.

“I believe in the healing power of the arts and the importance of a meaningful patient-physician relationship,” Salvador said. “I think, if I were a patient and my doctor were introducing me to all the ways that art could help heal and improve my quality of life, seeing the doctor participate in those activities would encourage me to try them as well.”

At the UAB Integrative Medicine Clinic, Salvador works to understand the intimate details of each of her patients’ lives, from physical activity and nutrition, to family and work life, to spirituality and emotional well-being. However, “Raising Our Voices” has given her the opportunity to interact with patients outside of the typical clinical setting.

Salvador says this experience has brought her back to the true reason that got her into medicine – healing people.

“When you are treating people with cancer, you unfortunately lose some to the disease,” Salvador said. “‘Raising Our Voices’ is the kind of program that helps physicians like myself remember them, honor them and heal the wounds suffered in losing them.”

While creative expression can be a beneficial complement to medicine, Salvador says there is something special about the environment that AIM and the Stuart Pimsler Dance Theater have created for these participants.

“It’s the frequent hugs, the laughs, the tears, the motivational words that make it such a great atmosphere to heal and grow together,” Salvador said. “Each participant treats one another with incredible, loving compassion, instinctively knowing when someone needs a hug or space to grieve.”

The cast of “Raising Our Voices” has rehearsed every day since Feb. 29 and will perform the finished piece at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, at the UAB Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased for $5, which will be donated to AIM.