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About this blog: I grew up in Menlo Park and have long been involved with both local journalism and local theater. After starting my career as an editorial intern with The Almanac, I was a staff reporter for the Almanac and the San Mateo County Ti...  (More)

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A survivor's spirit

Uploaded: Nov 7, 2013
I recently got an email from artist Edna Shochat with a dramatic poster attached. Headlined "One in Eight," the poster contains seven photos of glossy-haired celebrities showing lots of décolletage. It also has a picture of Edna in a hospital gown, which somehow looks elegant on her.

Beneath the eight photos, a stark American Cancer Society statistic: "During her lifetime, the chance of a woman to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer is about 1 in 8."

Then Edna has written a more uplifting line: "If you are one of the eight, remember: You may lose your hair, temporarily, or precious body parts, permanently, but you should never lose your sense of style."

That positive spirit seems perfectly in line with the artist's personality. When I first wrote about her in the Weekly last year, she was exhibiting her photos at Philz Coffee in Palo Alto. The images were cheerful and humorous freeze-frames of everyday life. The show was also a celebration, of the artist's first anniversary of her final chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Earlier this fall, Edna told a longer version of her story on the health blog of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, whose surgeons had performed her bilateral mastectomy in 2011 and whose oncology department had administered her chemotherapy. She's now cancer-free.

"As soon as I woke up from surgery and saw the worried faces of my husband and children, I knew I had to reassure them," the blog quotes Edna as saying. "I said faintly, 'I think I'm beginning to experience Empty Breasts Syndrome.'"

Edna beams in a photo. Her optimistic spirit also shines through in her pastel drawing "Two Sisters," which is highlighted in the blog. (The real thing is on display at Deborah's Palm in Palo Alto.)

She sent me the blog, along with a kind, appreciative note for my previous write-up about her. But I was the one who felt appreciative, as I read every inspiring word.

To see "Two Sisters," go to the Tumblr version of this blog.

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