Authors

  1. Belcher, David

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In the fall of 2002 Stefanie J. Atkinson photographed Angela Padilla, diagnosed in July 2002 at age 36 with stage II invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer, and her daughter Bella, who was less than two years old. Padilla's partner, Amy Silverstein, is obscured at right with her arm around Padilla.

  
FIGURE. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE. No caption available.

In 28 photographs, titled Angela's Journey: Breast Cancer Hits Home, Atkinson documented Padilla's journey from diagnosis through recovery. Padilla had been unable to find photographs showing the experience she would undergo and wanted to share hers with others. An exhibit of these photographs opened in November 2003 in San Francisco, raising $46,000 for two breast cancer organizations.

 

Atkinson, age 39, a professional photographer and Emmy Award-winning motion graphic designer, was so moved by Padilla's journey that she now documents other women under age 40 who are facing this disease. She is currently working on a photographic documentary intended to travel and raise public awareness of the prevalence and aggressiveness of breast cancer, as well as the lack of research among women ages 40 and younger. Many women in that age group don't see themselves as being at risk, and mammograms often don't reveal cancer in denser, younger breast tissue.

 

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women ages 15 to 40 years, according to the National Cancer Society. Nearly a quarter of a million women in the United States ages 40 and younger are living with the disease. Approximately 11,000 women in that age group will be diagnosed this year, and 1,300 will die.

 

Atkinson has devoted hundreds of hours to this project and has befriended many breast cancer survivors who she will profile in the exhibit. She hopes to secure funding to continue documenting breast cancer survivors so that more women will become inspired to be advocates for themselves and seek support.

 

"I've learned too much to look away," she says, adding that this project has made her appreciate the moment in ways she never imagined. "Angela just wanted to make sure she saw her daughter go to kindergarten."

 

For more on the artist and her work, visit http://www.groupm35.com/atkinson or e-mail stefaniejstudio@hotmail.com.