Fifteen years ago, Saturday, my mother began painting a large oil portrait of me. That may sound unremarkable, since she was a painter and I am her daughter, but it was highly charged for two reasons: I was busy, healthy, and I hate to sit for portraits. She was weak, breathless, dying of breast cancer, and she had never been satisfied with any of the previous portraits she’d attempted of me.
When celebrities like Angelina Joli, Joan Lunden and Hoda Kotb summon the courage to speak openly about their breast cancer, they offer an alternative to fear, hopelessness and isolation. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but for many, this awareness is year-round. My awesome artist-mother, Alice Steer Wilson, died of the disease in 2001. […]