Women's Cancer Resource Center Censors Artist with Terminal Cancer
by Gretchen Bily, June 2006
When a 33-year-old local artist with metastatic breast cancer submitted her painting for an art show at the Women's Cancer Resource Center in Oakland, California, she had no idea that it would be considered controversial. "It's a realistic painting of an anatomical subject, that's all," she said.
But, to her surprise, it was rejected by the Center's Gallery-Coordinator, Margo Rivera-Weiss. "I will not show work that may be upsetting to women with cancer," she stated in an email. "I will not ask you to participate in future shows."
This reaction in spite of the fact that the artist herself has widespread, terminal cancer at a young age. "I'm 33 and have advanced cancer. If it doesn't upset me, who is it going to upset? And how can you leave death out of the discussion about cancer? If cancer didn't result in the possibility of pain or death, then it wouldn't be an issue."
She is not alone in her sentiments. In the forward to psychiatrist/author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's book, "Death: The Final Stage of Growth," editor Laurie Braga states, "Death is a subject that is evaded, ignored, and denied by our youth-worshipping, progress-oriented society. It is almost as if we have taken on death as just another disease to be conquered. But the fact is that death is inevitable...It is an integral part of our lives that gives meaning to human existence."