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P&S Journal

P&S Journal: Spring 1997, Vol.17, No.2
The Human Portrait of Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Outreach at CPMC

 Talk to almost any woman ever diagnosed with breast cancer and she will tell you that her initial feeling was devastation. Many resources at CPMC exist to ease that first impression with information about life after breast cancer. CPMC's Social Work Services, SHARE (a self-help group for women with breast or ovarian cancer), and Women At Risk (WAR) sponsor a weekly peer support group. Offering a place to talk with someone who understands their feelings first-hand rescues many women from their fear and turns a frightening situation into an opportunity for growth.

Susan B. Markisz
A self-portrait by Susan B. Markisz, a photojournalist and breast cancer survivor whose photography is featured in the Irving Cancer Center's inaugural exhibit from New York's Creative Center for Women with Cancer.
 WAR--founded in 1991 through a partnership of physicians and patients who recognized that those at high risk would benefit from early intervention--is a research, education, and treatment program for women with a family history of breast cancer or with other risk factors. WAR also sponsors a monthly lecture series that features topics relevant to women at risk. An annual symposium focuses on general women's health issues. WAR's patient resource library, operated with donated funds, provides materials on breast cancer and health for patients and their families and is staffed by breast cancer survivors. The library is located in the breast center on the 10th floor of the Atchley Pavilion.

 Another resource is the Creative Center for Women with Cancer, a non-profit New York organization that invites patients at CPMC to participate in its programs. The creative center sponsors an exhibit of art, by breast cancer survivors, on display in the Irving Cancer Center. Organizers of the exhibit hope to change the exhibit at least three times a year. Participants in the creative center are encouraged to use art as a tool of expression, keeping in mind that "medicine cures the body, but art heals the spirit."

 The inaugural exhibit, launched in celebration of the opening of the WAR Resource Library last October, features the work of photographers Susan B. Markisz and Annette Porter, both breast cancer survivors.

 Ms. Markisz, a photojournalist living in New York, exhibited a series of silver gelatin prints of dancers and portraits of children and a group of color photos of architecture and other scenery. She also has a work in progress titled "Confronting Breast Cancer," which includes portraits and self-portraits documenting the emotions of a cancer diagnosis.

 Ms. Porter, also a photojournalist, featured her photographic project of "Expedition Inspiration," a group of breast cancer survivors who climbed Aconcagua, a 23,000-foot mountain in Argentina. The climb was intended to raise awareness, hope, and funds for breast cancer research.

 The second exhibit, opening in May, will feature mixed media collages with a musical theme by artist Lise Poirier.

 Information about the Creative Center for Women with Cancer may be requested from the center at 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 933, New York, NY, (212) 868-4766.


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