October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and in case you are not aware, the statistics for South Florida are alarming. Some of the zip codes served by the College of Medicine’s Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP™ (Health Education Learning Program) have the highest late-stage breast cancer detection rates in the nation. It is one reason why the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine offers free screenings to underserved women in Miami-Dade County through the Linda Fenner 3D Mobile Mammography Center, and why FIU’s medical students founded the Mammography Art Initiative. Since their first art show/auction in 2012, they have raised more than $50,000 for breast health services for needy women.
Medical student Michael Peter Burzynski, who penned the first-person piece below, is in charge of this year’s show. He’ll tell you, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
I avoided her office because I knew what to expect.
“So, Michael, where are we with the art, the tables, the volunteers, the pamphlets, the quotations, etc., etc., etc.?”
Adviser and faculty liaison Scarlett Aldana’s advice was not free. It came at the cost of yet more to do. No exceptions.
Despite not having to collect donated art, the complexity of this year’s show was not to be outdone by previous years. The intention of this year’s show, like previous years, was to sell art to fund mammograms, breast education and follow-up care for women who would otherwise not be able to afford them. With a team comprised entirely of medical students — with schedules as hectic as they are — it is a miracle any progress is made at all!
As art director for Mammography Art Initiative, I am personally responsible to ensure this year’s event runs smoothly from start to finish. However, we will ultimately succeed or fail as a team. This week we’ve contacted the gallery owner, the artist, the driver, the speaker, the news, the faculty and the guests. That’s not all. The website, the Facebook page, the pamphlets and the posters needed updating. Day-of, the Mammovan will need parking, art will need selling, tables will need assembling, donations will need accepting, wine will need pouring and the evening will need volunteers.
For personal gain? No. For women we will never see let alone meet. Why? Because the spirit of medicine extends beyond the walls of the classroom, the clinic or the bedside. It is the power from within to do good without. In this way even gallery owners and artists can give the gift of medicine.
–“Stories,” The Mammography Art Initiative 4th Annual Art Event opens Sat., Oct. 17, 6 to 9 p.m. at Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art, Wynwood Arts District, 2239 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami.