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Faces of Faith: Celebrating Cancer Survivorship

 


Presented by Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, the Faces of Faith: Celebrating Cancer Survivorship exhibit was displayed throughout the month of June at the Erick Jean Center for the Arts in Dorchester. Culminating in a community reception on June 27, the exhibit was held in an effort to raise awareness of issues surrounding cancer disparities in the Dorchester community and beyond through putting a face to cancer survivorship.



The exhibit featured 19 volunteer individuals leading vibrant, full lives as cancer survivors. Their profile photos were displayed around the art center, each photo capturing the unique personality of its subject. Displayed below each of their photos was a testimonial, providing attendees with inspiring wisdom about their experiences related to cancer and their faith.

The 19 cancer survivors are each a member of one of the nine greater Boston area churches in consortium that, along with the American Cancer Society, and the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, Inc., creates the Faith-Based Cancer Disparities Network (the Network). Through community outreach and events, the Disparities Network strives to demystify cancer survivorship and the stigma that is often attached to a cancer diagnosis in communities of color.

The reception had the feel of a true art exhibit, with soft jazz music filling the space as attendees ambled from one beautifully-spotlighted portrait to the next. But the event also maintained a more intimate feel, like that of a family gathering, as attendees reunited and mingled, and children made good use of the space as a dance floor. Many of the faces displayed around the room were present at the event.

The goal of the Network is not only to give a hopeful face to cancer survivorship, but to also showcase how faith plays a role in that hope. Many of the testimonies displayed in the exhibit emphasized how faith has helped shape each survivor’s journey. Each testimony provided a unique outlook on survivorship and faith, and there was common theme: the goal of voicing their experiences in order to bring that hope to others.

“All of the celebrants had the willingness to say, ‘I will not stand silent in the quest of surviving this disease. I don’t want to be quiet anymore, I want to be able to showcase and share what my journey has been like,’ said Karen Burns White, Deputy Associate Director for the DF/HCC Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities. “And for some of the individuals who attended, it was a ‘wow factor,’ that here are people who won’t be silent anymore, and here are these 19 photos of individuals that have so much promise and energy.”

Photographs for the Faces of Faith exhibit were taken by Sam Ogden, staff photographer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Article written by Emily Dias. If you are interested in hosting a showing of Faces of Faith, please contact Karen Burns White at iecd@partners.org.

 

Karen Burns White (far left) and Faces of Faith exhibit guests pause for a photo while viewing the display.
Photo by Emily Dias, DF/HCC.

Friends and family of Faces of Faith participants gather at the Erick Jean Center for the Arts in Dorchester.
Photo by Emily Dias, DF/HCC.

Guests are entertained with jazz music throughout the evening. Photo by Emily Dias, DF/HCC.

Attendees of all ages gather to celebrate cancer survivorship. Photo by Emily Dias, DF/HCC.

Smiling faces fill the room as loved ones mingle and celebrate friends and family successfully living with cancer.
Photo by Emily Dias, DF/HCC.