Video: Artist puts spotlight on breast cancer

By Dawn Fratangelo Correspondent
NBC News
updated 4/12/2006 7:42:12 PM ET 2006-04-12T23:42:12

Sculptor Mary Ellen Scherl is inspired by the human body, in all shapes and sizes. Especially the models for her new project — women with breast cancer.

“They feel desperate about this,” Scherl explains. “They want to be heard, they want to make a difference, and this is their way of being able to make a difference.”

The New Jersey artist calls the project "Mamorial," sculptures of cancer-affected breasts. Inspired by her own scare, Scherl envisions an exhibit that will raise money and reflect every stage of the disease.

“It says that they're comfortable with who they are and how they look,” Scherl says. “And I think a major part of it is they're thrilled to be alive!”

It's art created by women themselves, like sisters Carol Parker and Janet Dubois. They received special kits to make molds at home. In Carol's case, it’s a mold of her reconstructed breast.  For Janet, it’s an impression of her double mastectomy.

“It's almost like a badge of courage, to be honest with you,” Dubois says, smiling. “I survived, I got through it and I'm good to go.”

Each mold has its own story. When you can see the scar, you can say, “So this is a mastectomy.”

Beatrice Daniel, halfway through chemotherapy, wanted to make her mold before surgery.  She feels it's a “tombstone” for the breast she'll lose. “There will be an image of who I was,” she says.

“This may become famous,” says one of the survivors-turned-artists, as she laughs and holds her mold out to be seen. “So I'll go down in history for my left breast!”

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