Artistic Expression with our Survivors and Thrivers

This page is dedicated to the creative efforts of breast cancer survivors and thrivers in our community. Each person’s journey will look and feel different. The journey has often inspired creative expression in countless forms. We are thankful to these artists for making the world a bit more beautiful with their creations. These artists have generously donated select pieces to To Life! to be included in our fundraising auctions. Their contributions help To Life! continue supporting fellow survivors.

Bronwyn Perez

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Artist's statement:

I was diagnosed with State 3 invasive ductal carcinoma at the age of 28, two weeks after my oldest daughter turned one. With Christmas right around my five year "cancer-versary" in 2020, she got me a set of colored pencils and drawing paper. I told her I would draw something everyday with those pencils, and although I've expanded media since then, I've kept my word (you can check out my daily doodles on Instagram @r3d34n). Creating any sort of artwork helps me feel at peace, but my favorite pieces to make are cartoons that I can share and enjoy with my daughters, now three and seven.

Carol Turner

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Artist's statement:

I have been an artist since before I can remember! I inherited the creative arts gene from both sides of the family. My maternal grandmother sang with the Metropolitan Opera and her husband was a very successful commercial artist. My paternal aunt was a very fine painter working in watercolor and acrylics in the Philadelphia area. My siblings are all artists and musicians.

I have an MA from SUNY Albany in painting and my work is in many private collections, in the Capital District, Cape Cod, and the American Southwest. For twenty years I worked as a graphic designer, a job that sharpened my drawing and design skills. My paintings can also be found on Etsy.

24 years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Sinking into a depression, I searched the Capital District for support groups and found none. It is a blessing to know that we now have To Life! in our area.


Holly Michaelson

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Artist's statement:  

I have been stamping my art and emotions since 2006 when I began to create a memorial scrapbook of my father. When my cancer journey began in 2015, I dove deeper into stamping as a healing tool. This medium provides a creative outlet and stress relief.  Stamping is my "Happy Place!"  Making cards is two times the fun, first I enjoy making them, then I get to spread love, well wishes, sympathy and care to others when I give them away. 

For the past few years, I have been teaching my breast cancer friends how to stamp, first in person and later virtually. This has created an impromptu network of support among us. Inevitably, while we create cards, our conversation turns to our breast cancer journey, as well as all sorts of other things we are wrestling with or celebrating! Now, my passion is three times the fun - with an added social element!

Rachel Criscione

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Artist's statement:

I have always loved to paint. As any artist knows there is nothing quite like mixing the perfect green or combining colors that give you a result you never would have expected. Blue and orange make a lovely olive green. Who knew?

For years I painted landscapes of the Hudson Valley. Many of these paintings were inspired by my view of the Hudson River from the train going to New York City. Recently I have been painting seascapes from the coastline in Maine. The main attraction always seems to be the water. I enjoy the challenge of trying to capture the energy and beauty of moving water.

I was painting long before I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time. I continued to paint off and on during both bouts with breast cancer. Although I had the time to paint during treatment, I did not have the creative energy to start and finish many paintings. When I look back on some of those paintings I realize how much both my work and my stamina have improved.

Rita Cox    

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Artist's statement: image.png

I'm a maker. Making things in any medium has been a passion since I was a child and, as an adult, it has become one of the ways I deal with stress. While I was battling breast cancer, it became even more important. While there were long lists of things I couldn't do, making things with my hands helped me feel strong and productive. Knitting was one of the things that helped me deal with breast cancer.


Sally Nelson       

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Artist's statement:

Coming from an artistic family I painted through high school, but never really had a desire to pursue art.  I never considered myself to be on the same level as the artists that  surrounded me, and preferred the company of horses.  I spent my growing up years on horseback, returning to horses later for a brief time.  I have morphed myself many times over the years since.  I never considered artistry until I found a passion for photography which today rivals my love of horses.  This picture of Wonder Lake was one of my early pictures.  I am still learning the art of photography and do not consider myself professional.  But I love every opportunity to improve and grow through the beauty that surrounds me.

In 2009, while living in Raleigh, NC, I was diagnosed with a DCIS lump in my breast which was subsequently removed.  I have been very fortunate to be cancer free ever since.  It was a scary time, because I lost my mother to cancer in 1975, at a time when the word CANCER was a death sentence, in my mind.  Today it is nothing short of miraculous to see the advancements in medicine that help so many cancer patients battle back and live normal, happy lives.  My daughter, Rita, who is now Board President of  To Life! has taken her experience and made a shining example of living life to its fullest.  All survivors are, in my mind, heroes.


Tammy Ogsbury

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Artist's statement:

I was diagnosed at 32 years old with stage 2 triple negative condroid metaplastic breast cancer. I went through 16 rounds of chemo and 3 surgeries and have been clear since.

2 years after finishing treatment, I gave birth to my miracle daughter, Harper. I hope to teach her to quilt one day and pass down a family sewing machine that's 4 generations old! Quilting has always been my favorite way to relax and the outcome of each piece is always so unique. I love that it's like sending out a hug to the world whenever I give a quilt away.