‘It’s beyond words:’ Young cancer survivor, art therapist reunite

For years, Bella Marin was filled with anxiety every time she had to return to the hospital for more rounds of chemo. However, last week, she returned once again but this time with joy and gratitude for the woman who single handedly changed her path ahead.  

It had been seven years since she walked down the corridor at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

“Walking through the hallways, at first it brought back bad memories,” she said.

Memories of endless days of chemo, complications, and loneliness.

On this recent visit back, Marin was back to thank the woman who helped her find the light: Art therapist Lori Mackey.

“It’s really an honor to be invited into anybody’s space,” Mackey said. “It takes a lot of courage to create when I present someone with a blank canvas and art materials they’ve never used. That takes courage.”

For years Mackey has worked with young patients through hard moments, with a pastel crayon and paintbrush and helped them find a feeling through a stroke of color.

“I don’t see her as a therapist. I see her as a friend,” Marin said. 

WGN News was there for the special reunion.

Marin pulled a stack of work she made with Mackey during a journey to healing through artwork and told Mackey she was now pursuing a degree in art and hoping to be an art therapist.

“She makes kids feel happy. I want to do that. I want to make other kids feel happy and make them feel like they’re not alone when going through treatment or other obstacles,” Marin said.

“It’s beyond words. It’s special and affirming of this work that I love to do,” Mackey said.

Marin is in her sophomore year at college now, pursuing degrees in psychology and art therapy. Mackey says she’ll be front and center with she graduates cheering her on as she helps other kids draw out their own beautiful canvas. 

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