“Breast Strokes” Raises Awareness for Cancer

By Anna Streetman | AJT Editorial Intern

In honor of breast cancer awareness month, Greater Atlanta Hadassah hosted a different type of fundraiser that has never been done in Atlanta before.

The event was called “Breast Strokes: Hadassah Bares All For A.R.T.” (awareness, research, treatment). It took place on October 26 at the Cancer Support Community. Local painters artistically colored 35 women from neck to navel in beautiful designs. Eight photographers then took photographs of the women. The photographs will be sold at an art gallery at the Westside Cultural Arts Center on February 24. The event will be called “The Big Reveal.”

According to Sandy Edelman, a member of Greater Atlanta Hadassah, the plans for the event unfolded in Holly Strelzik house. Strelzik is a co-chair for the event. Edelman said: “There was one big committee meeting at Holly’s house, and the event just caught fire. The women were a powerhouse of ideas. We spread awareness about the event through word of mouth. It was a joint effort in the spirit of working together to accomplish something amazing.”

Each woman had her own reasons for participating in the event. One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, has been a nurse at Northside Hospital for over 40 years. “As a healthcare professional, I believe it is important to immerse myself in the cause. Raising awareness for breast cancer is important.”

Paula Zucker, the current Operational Vice President of Greater Atlanta Hadassah, was also painted. She is also the incoming President starting in December of this year. She is excited about becoming Greater Atlanta Hadassah’s new president: “These women are extraordinary, committed women that want to make the world a better place. We do great things and have a great time doing them, and it feels great to be a part of such a wonderful organization.”

There were 14 artists painting the women that day. Some of the women being painted brought in their own designs for the artists to paint. One of the painters, Brandi, considers art something she does for fun, and she wanted to put her hobby towards a good cause. Brandi also has a friend who lost her life to breast cancer.

Another painter, Svetlana, said the experience was very rewarding, and commented on the amazing atmosphere in the event: “The atmosphere of this event is unreal. Every woman here is so kind, loving, and positive. It’s such an empowering thing for an amazing group of women.”

In addition to being painted, the women were treated to massages, which were provided by Cully Burnet/Excelsior Healing Arts. They were also provided with reflexology treatments from Bev Stegman/Foundation Therapy. A variety of vendors such as Kroger and Fresh Market also donated food for the event. Institute DerMed Spa also provided goodie bags with product and gift certificates to all 35 women.

The event is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the “Check It Out” program. The program is in partnership with Northside Hospital and aims to educate young women about breast cancer, particularly early detection. Last year, the program went to 15 schools and had over 1,700 attendees.

“Early detection saves lives. We want to teach young women that they are their own advocates for body awareness,” said Ellen Banov, chair of the program.

A company called Binders donated all the art supplies for the event, including about $1000 worth of paintbrushes. Jessica Locklar is a representative for Binders and also volunteered at the event. “Binders prides itself on being a very community oriented company. We are honored to be a part of such an amazing event,” she said.

Babara Lang is a co-chair of Breast Strokes and says she is very proud of the program and its success: “It’s important to get the word out about this. Breast cancer doesn’t stop in October, so neither will we.”