On January 14th, 14-year old Luke Seibt had a needle biopsy to test for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The next day he auditioned to earn a place in the prestigious visual arts program at Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA).
In the weeks that followed, he received the most difficult news of his young life. He had cancer and would have to undergo a rigorous course of chemotherapy. He also received the news he’d been waiting for since discovering his talent for art: he would be attending his dream school starting in September.
“once I’m done this, I get to go to school, I was super excited.”
He began treatment at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH), and the staff caring for him immediately noticed his gift. Though his chemotherapy made him tired, he was still able to draw and his art provided a therapeutic distraction. Word of his talent traveled fast. Child life specialists, Nate Seroski and Nancy Stefin, who help young patients understand their illnesses and cope during treatment, wanted to make Luke’s art a permanent fixture at MCH.
“Learning about Luke’s incredible talent was like finding a hidden gem,” Seroski says, “as he told me about each piece he drew, you could feel the passion and joy he has for the arts.”
They asked Luke to consider drawing a scene that might be featured on note cards produced by the Child Life team and sent to MCH donors.
Luke was unable to attend school during most of his treatment and having an art project to work on made his frequent trips to the hospital easier to bear. Completing his note card drawing became a refreshing diversion. He says his acceptance letter from ESA also helped keep him focused on the finish line, “once I’m done this, I get to go to school, I was super excited.” Last week, staff, physicians, patients and families gathered around Luke for a “hip hip hooray!” to announce he was officially done chemo. In addition to this life changing milestone, Seroski presented Luke with a stack of cards printed with his beautifully drawn hummingbird.
Luke is eager to start school in the fall but in the meantime, he has big plans for the summer. He’s looking forward to his class graduation trip to Quebec City and as he puts it, “getting hair again.” He’s also attending Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium.
His team at MCH will be keeping a close eye on his progress both as a patient and as an artist. His greeting cards have already become a hot commodity at MCH. They might be worth a pretty penny one day.