Comments from the Decatur Book Festival about A Celebration of Healing
Back down the hill to the Marriott for my friends’ Eve Hoffman and Sal Brownfield’s presentation of their book of art and essay, “A Celebration of Healing.” Sal is a painter and Eve, a poet. Sal began a project of painting breast cancer survivors which culminated in twenty-one large canvasses that are more like stained glass windows. They are luminous and what they illuminate is courage, damage and the will to live on. Eve’s poetic essays give us the stories behind the paintings. Two of Sal’s paintings framed them as they talked and read. These images and stories were intended to move us to deeper empathy and they did. I dried my eyes and walked back up the hill. ~Franklin Abbott, poet and psychologist
During the discussion and sharing that happened in the room at the Decatur Book Festival talk by Eve and Sal, the chasm between physician services and the emotional needs of patients came to the forefront. It’s clear that this book bridges that chasm with its emotional support and healing art. Any caring physician in the breast cancer treatment arena should provide a copy to their patients.
Sal and Eve, congratulations on the fine evolution of your breast cancer project. Splendid, outstanding job in your presentation. The combination of the artist and the writer with two paintings nearby (arts and humanities) seems to be absolutely right for the subject matter and the spirit you both bring.
~Jamil Zainaldin, Georgia Humanities Council.
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While I was waiting for my wife to have a biopsy, the Celebration of Healing painting and story in the waiting room of the university cancer center wasn’t just art, but an expression of life, of hope, of encouragement for a novice spouse in the world of breast cancer clinic visits.
~David Schechter, CNN Senior National Editor
Unfortunately medical professionals do not adequately address the emotional side of mastectomy. These topics are often left out of discussions patients have with their doctors and those who care for them when they are going through this difficult and traumatic experience. In addition, facing a diagnosis of breast cancer (or risk of breast cancer) and trying to wade through the complexities of surgical treatment, medical treatment and reconstruction options is overwhelming. Most women do not have time to think about what they are going through emotionally, let alone talk about it or express it in a constructive way. A Celebration of Healing provides a much-needed outlet. Celebration gives patients the opportunity to discuss their feelings about going through a very difficult experience. The women in these stories talk about facing mortality, making life or death decisions, learning how to cope with new realities, and figuring out what is most important in life. The paintings help to address the complex mix of disfigurement, strength and beauty of the women portrayed. A Celebration of Healing helps to bring important stories of survival into focus in a very artistic and meaningful way.
~Joshua L. Levine, MD, Center for Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction; Center for the Advancement of Breast Reconstruction, New York
Although the Celebration of Healing paintings are about women and breast cancer – fear thereof, survival therefrom, living with, triumphing over – they are more about the beauty of human life. Artists through time have used the human body, especially the female body, to celebrate creation. Not many (none that I can think of with the possible exception of Goya) have used illness and even disfigurement in the service of beauty. Celebration is one of the most powerful platforms for education about breast cancer that I have encountered, dramatically encouraging prevention and resoundingly affirming the fullness of life attainable after cancer, including after cancer surgery.
~Paula Lawton Bevington, First Woman President, Rotary Club of Atlanta; Past Chair, Georgia Human Relations Commission