Changing the Face of Survivorship

Workshop Series to Help Women Navigate the New Normal After Beating Breast Cancer


For cancer patients, there is nothing like making it to the end of treatment and ringing that celebratory bell. Some patients, however, find an uncertainty and unease they hadn’t anticipated once on the other side of that celebration. Watson Clinic Foundation’s Arts In Medicine program is sponsoring a Breast Cancer Survivorship Workshop Series that aims to assist survivors as they navigate their new normal.

“There is an incredible need for programs like this in the area of survivorship,” says Tiffany Van Wieren, Watson Clinic Foundation’s Arts in Medicine coordinator.

Van Wieren says that with the advent of new treatments, mortality rates have decreased. In the United States alone, there are 2.5 million survivors. The National Cancer Institute reports that Polk County, Florida, has more than 3,900 new cases of cancer reported each year, and breast cancer is the most often diagnosed form. For every 100,000 residents, there will be more than 500 who are directly impacted.

According to Van Wieren, Watson Clinic Foundation realized there wasn’t a comprehensive wellness program for survivors in the area and set out to provide one.

“[Survivors] want to reduce their chances for recurrence and increase their strength,” she says. “This is a huge opportunity to grow in our efforts to treat patients and help our community.”

The Fall Workshop Series will include four standalone workshops, with the series beginning Sept. 28 in the Watson Clinic Cancer and Research Center. The deadline to apply for the series is Sept. 25. You may apply at:

The Workshop Series is possible thanks to a grant from the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation.

“The core part of each class of survivors is sharing together and learning together,” says Van Wieren. “Each class is a little different and takes on its own culture because there are new participants in each group.”

The initial workshop focuses on survivorship. One of Watson Clinic’s oncologists will present the workshop and answer questions from the group. The workshop will address expectations and insights on managing each individual’s health as they move forward in survivorship. All attendees will receive a Survivorship Care Plan Guidebook.

Additional workshops include:

  • Healing With Horticulture on Oct. 12
  • The ART of Connection on Nov. 9
  • Building Strength Through Movement on Dec. 14 

Watson Clinic Foundation is pairing with local organizations to present these workshops. 

“We utilize community partnerships so participants can continue when the workshop series is done,” says Van Wieren. “Partnerships allow that, and they encourage an overall healthier community.”

“We looked for pathways of help,” Van Wieren says. “Learning to address the loss of muscle mass, strength, energy, and endurance is a huge need for breast cancer survivors. The fatigue lasts long after treatment ends.”

She says the Building Strength through Movement workshop will address those issues, and their partnership with Satya Life Yoga will allow participants to continue the practice if they wish.

There are also social and emotional components to survivorship, she says. “Patients are redefined in so many ways after treatment, and often, there’s no time to process what is happening while they are in the thick of it.”

“The moment when patients hit survivorship, that’s when the journey of processing begins,” Van Wieren says. “Art is a great medium for that. You can connect to yourself in lots of deep ways.”

The Art of Connection workshop is in partnership with the Polk Museum of Art.

“Gardening has mental and physical benefits, as well,” she continues. One of the goals of the program is for participants to be able to try lots of different things, maybe something they wouldn’t have before survivorship.

“We would like to expand programming like this, so it isn’t just for breast cancer patients, though they are the largest group that we treat,” she says. “One of our objectives is to have more programming like this, not just to serve the clinic but the community.”

The Watson Clinic Foundation program’s focus on survivors is rare. 

“I wish I could say that there are more like this,” Van Wieren says. “There’s really not a lot out there for survivorship at all. Our program specifically is more rare because it does combine the Arts in Health factor.” 

For more information, contact Van Wieren at: 863-603-4718 or

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