HONOLULU - Patients and their families joined staff from Tripler Army Medical Center, May 11-12, to participate in the 6th Annual Oncology on Canvas.

The art program is one of many therapeutic methods that Tripler uses to help its cancer patients and families cope. This year, despite graduation and Mothers Day events, more than 175 people attended the art event in the hospital's 10th floor conference room.

According to Dr. Pat Nishimoto, adult oncology clinical nurse specialist, TAMC, the event originated as result of the hospital's lack of avenues to help service members cope. Nishimoto said active duty service members have a natural "suck it up and move on" mentality and a lot of cancer patients were not dealing with their diagnosis.

"When (active duty patients) go through treatment, a lot of them continue to go to work and (they continue their daily roles always wanting to) give 110 percent," Nishimoto explained. "They don't talk about cancer and they don't take time to reflect on the fact that they have been diagnosed with a disease that could be life threatening.

"Many of them would want to go back to work before (they should) and we tell them that they need time to recover because you get very tired when you are going through chemotherapy," Nishimoto added. "Chemo is like a hardship deployment."

For 28-year-old U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Robert Torres, Wounded Warrior Detachment, U.S. Marine Corps Base-Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, learning to cope with his cancer has been the biggest part of the adjustment for him and his family.

Torres and his family were transferred from their duty station in Okinawa, Japan, five months ago to Tripler to receive treatment after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

"I am going through chemotherapy right now and the prognosis is good," Torres said. "I will go through one more round of treatment (and will be here) for at least another two years."

He feels the Oncology on Canvas event created a great opportunity for his family to bond over the diagnosis.

"I think this event is awesome," Torres said. "It is a good way for the kids to express their artistic skills and (for us to) come together as a family."

Nishimoto is providing two families who were unable to attend the event with canvases so they can create artwork at home together.

There are multiple opportunities to view the artwork. The first showing will be June 4-15 in TAMC's Medical Library on the 11th floor, followed by August 6-18 at the Kahala Mall, and then October 8-18 at the Honolulu Hale. There will be a special viewing Oct. 9, 5-7 p.m., at the Honolulu Hale with a reception that will offer viewers the chance to speak with some of the artists.