Monday, April 16, 2012

Badges of Courage

The power of art – It can heal, it can honor and it can help others in need.

My friend Macarena Silveti created “Badges of Courage” in honor of her mother and grandmother who were diagnosed, and survived, breast cancer. “Badges of Courage Foundation was founded to provide assistance to low income women who have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer and those who are in treatment. Often, these women cannot work during their lengthy treatment and without the possibility of income, cannot afford their basic living expenses. Their goal is to give women tranquility and hope in fighting this disease.”

I want to share my friend’s blog and show you how art plays many roles in our lives………

Why did I create a Badge of Courage™?

Last night, I had a very interesting conversation with three women. One of them had recently stopped breastfeeding her son, a year after his birth. She mentioned how he hardly got sick and if he did, it was something mild and non-important. She mentioned how happy she had felt being able to breastfeed and provide the best food for her son during the first year of his life. When I saw how she glowed as she spoke and how her happiness showed through, I realized; THAT’S WHY I CREATED THE BADGES OF COURAGE™!

Badges of Courage™
What happens when this beautiful, female, motherly part of us has cancer? That very beautiful, female part of us is invaded. We feel we will lose our identity as a WOMAN. We may no longer have those breasts that surprised us as they grew from a small bud into a blossoming BOOB when we were young, enticed our lovers and fed our children. They will now be removed, cut, mutilated and the scars will forever remain inside our hearts.
When my Mother had breast cancer, the reality hit me like a brick smacking my face. Although I had grown up with my Grandmother only having one breast, it was something I had not expected. I thought my Mother was “safe”, “untouched” by this CANCER word. Because of her diagnosis, she had to have a radical mastectomy and to see her with only one breast was so painful, I wanted to take her in my arms and tell her everything would be alright although I knew it would never be. She had already been under the knife.
Two years ago, I had the idea to create something that would symbolize the breast that had been taken from my Mother.  I created my first Badge of Courage™. It was  a hand painted white flower on blue painted cotton fabric. I beaded the petals to give it color and celebrate the beauty of her breast and what it symbolizes. I wanted it to be like a little “jewel” that had been removed from her.
From that first one, I created several others. Some were fully beaded and while sewing them, I thought, EVERY STITCH SYMBOLIZES THE LOVE  I HAVE FOR MY MOTHER AND MY ADMIRATION FOR THE PAIN AND LOSS SHE HAD TO GO THROUGH.
I have had many friends who have been diagnosed with breast cancer since my Mother was first diagnosed. Every time it happens, I think of the Badges and what they symbolize: how special a breast is to us women.
My Aunt Elena (my mother’s sister) was diagnosed a week ago and the tears flowed. I thought, WHY HER??? The only solace I found was the thought of naming a Badge of  Courage™ after her. My family has been lucky, everyone who has been touched by breast cancer has survived. My Grandmother, diagnosed at 48, died at almost 97! She lived a precious, long life full of happiness.

Three generations of women with breast cancer. Counterclockwise, top left, My Grandmother Elena, my Grandfather Alberto, My Aunt Elena, My Great-Grandmother Elena and my Mother Marta.
Whenever I hear of a woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer I think, “May they be OK. May they come out stronger than before and may they laugh at the face of death.”
If you want to take a look at the Badges of Courage™ the link is:

25.788969 -80.226439

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