“One breast cancer survivor has a cast in the show and also made her own artistic contribution. Mary Anne Mohanraj is an English professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, an author and a new Oak Park Public Library trustee. In February 2015, she was diagnosed by mammogram at age 43 with Stage 2 breast cancer. Although her prognosis was good, she underwent five months of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, radiation and an additional year of follow-up infusions. During treatment, she missed little work, but ongoing fatigue from treatment negatively affected her early elementary school-age children and her writing.
“If you focus on what you lost, it’s not so helpful,” she said. “I do better when I’m communicating about it, especially to people who are going through it.”
Pressed leaves and flowers, plus lines of her poetry (“Thunderstorms, yes, the drops hammer against the windshield …”) peek through on a blue background covering her cast.
“I wrote poems during treatment, and gardening was a solace,” Mohanraj continued. “The exhibit is important because it destigmatizes something that shouldn’t have stigma — women’s health.””