For two women, art is an integral part of life. From designing, to painting and creating, art is part of them – and, in their own ways, so is breast cancer.
Plantation resident Judy Polstra has had many breast cancer scares in the last few years, and Michelle Morse of Coral Springs has close friends battling the disease. Both women have also had close family members die from breast cancer. So when Broward Health asked them to design and paint oversized stiletto shoes for breast cancer awareness, they were on board.
“At this very moment, two of my close friends are battling breast cancer; and another is twice a survivor,” Morse wrote in an email. “I have seen the pain they have endured and want to do whatever I can with my art to save others from having to experience the physical and emotional devastation of breast cancer. It is so widespread, that there is no one around me whose lives have not been touched by it, and I hope this will be less and less true as time goes on…”
The disease runs in Polstra’s family. “My grandma died of breast cancer, and I had my own scare,” she said. “Last year, I finally got a clean bill of health, but I kept having to go through tests for a stretch of five years. Last year was my first time without screenings every three to six months. The lumps were never cancerous, but they were always suspicious.”
The shoe project – called the Stiletto Strut – is a part of Broward Health’s MAMMOPALOOZA event and the Glam-a-THON organization’s Glam Doll Strut, which ben? efits breast cancer research. Glam Doll Strut creator Tammy Gail came up with the idea for the 5-feet-tall shoes to be painted by local artists and displayed in Broward Health hospitals during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“As we were getting ready for this years event, we were coming up with ways to make it more fun,” said Jenny Mackie, the corporate communications manager for Broward Health. “Glam-a-THON’s signature is the stiletto, so in talking to [Gail] we thought that it [would] be great to have a stiletto in all the hospitals to tie it in with the MAMMOPALOOZA event.”
Four artists were chosen to create five shoes, each to be displayed in a different Broward Health hospitals. Morse designed two shoes, one for Broward Health Coral Springs and painted to look like a stretching cat, the other for Broward Health Medical Center and designed with a beach theme. Polstra created a shoe using spray foam for Broward Health North.
The two other artists – Steven Sylvester and Michael Colanero – created their shoes for Broward Health Weston and Broward Health Imperial Point.
“Each shoe has its own personality, and so each hospital picked what they thought best for them,” Mackie said. “It really worked out well. They are fun for people to look at. Mammograms sound a lot worse than they really are, so this helps ease the tension and make it a little more palatable.”
This is the fourth year Broward Health has sponsored MAMMOPALOOZA, an event designed to help women learn more about the early detection of breast cancer and to make mammograms more affordable; this is the first time it is scheduled to last the entire month of October.
For more information about MAMMOPALOOZA, visit BrowardHealth.org/mammo. For Glam-a-THON, visit glam-a-thon.com. To learn more about the artists, visit judypolstra.com and mmorse.com.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times