I have always known cancer. My mother, Molly, had metastatic breast cancer for eight years before her passing in 2015. I have a high risk and chek2, a genetic predisposition that significantly raises my chances of developing breast cancer. To date, I have had four mastectomy surgeries, ten MRI’s, ten 3d mammograms, and fifteen years of suspecting a gene. I have a lifetime of tests, procedures, waiting, and surgeries to come.
I do know that I am not alone. 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. On average, that is one woman every 2 minutes. Awareness and advocacy has helped, but these numbers are staggering. What we don’t see in these numbers are the stories involved. The care, the feelings, the day to day. We do not see how it changes people’s lives.
Observing and listening to people over these years, I’ve heard the same thing echoed over and over: "Am I alone?" "I just need someone to say they get this..." It seems that in a culture that prefers stories to be inspirational and sanitized, we neglect to display the stories of rising and falling in between. As an artist, I wanted to respond to this need.
This yearlong study will highlight the experiences of breast cancer patients, survivors, and those with a high risk or genetic predisposition for breast cancer. I will be conducting interviews with these people, hosting art workshops and support groups with them, building a series of art pieces that reflect these experiences, and hosting an art exhibition that is the culmination of the year.
Often described as a journey, cancer and living with the possibility of cancer changes your perspective on life. It's a deeply personal and vulnerable experience, and it can be isolating in its depths. The mission of this project is to provide a visual articulation to the breast cancer experience, to connect and support those affected by breast cancer, and provide further awareness, advocacy, and understanding to this process.
Donations will be received at each workshop and related event. All proceeds will be going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, a foundation that supports breast cancer patients and research for a cure. They are a renowned organization that gives 80% of their proceeds directly to these needs.
I am excited and nervous for this work. It is open, vulnerable, hopefully, scary, hard, and connecting. It is very different than the work I typically do as an artist, but I believe in it. I cannot wait to get started.