In an earlier story for WVFC, Dore Hammond told of her leap from stay-at-home suburban mother to filmmaker. Here, she shares an encounter that followed her branching out into a related field: photography. –Ed.  

How often do you meet a medical doctor who is a former Ford model and former Miss Sweden? I meet this amazing person, Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin, for the first time at the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She arrives at the hospital in jeans, traveling on a foot-propelled scooter. We are meeting to review my  photographs, which will hang in the new center, and I am taken aback by  her charming, casual style.

After her warm, enthusiastic welcome we go into a sleek, glass enclosed conference room to look at the framed photographs she has selected. This new breast cancer center is named after Eva and her husband Glenn Dubin.

Dr. Andersson-Dubin is a mother of three and a breast cancer survivor. We met through a mutual friend, Patty Sicular, who suggested I email Eva some of my photographs as possible décor in the new building. Much to my delight, she thought the images suggested the calm and meditative quality that she was looking for, as a complement to the center’s serene atmosphere.

The Dubin Center is such a beautiful space, you cannot believe you are in a hospital. You think you have entered the wrong door on Fifth Avenue and are now in a spa instead of a cancer treatment facility. The holistic, comprehensive, patient-centered approach is uplifting.

I have been lucky not have had breast cancer. But like most women, I have had more than a few friends diagnosed with the disease. I have also had a family member treated for breast cancer: my grandmother Josephine.

Josephine developed breast cancer in 1965, when she was in  her late 50s. She was afraid to tell anyone about the lump in her breast. Although she lived in Manhattan, surrounded by some of the best hospitals in the world, she felt that a breast cancer diagnosis was inevitably followed by disfigurement or death. Not until the lump was the size of a baseball did she seek treatment. She had a radical mastectomy that left her with a large, ugly scar where her breast had been. Breast reconstruction was either not discussed or unavailable.

She had survived polio as a child, but now was plagued with shame and emotional distress caused by her disfigurement from breast cancer surgery.

Today, I imagine Josephine would still be frightened by a breast cancer diagnosis—as we all would be—but she would seek help early. The stigma and shame would have been eased by all the attention now paid to this type of cancer. She would never have believed that professional football players now wear pink socks during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Frankly, I can’t believe it either, but I’m glad they do!

I am honored that my photographs at Dubin are in the doctors’ offices facing Central Park, and hope that my snow-covered-cottage and beach-horizon images can in some way help relax the patients who view them.

In memory of my grandmother, there is a bench in Central Park with her name on it. It is comforting to know that now my photographs now face Central Park and her bench.

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  • dore hammond November 13, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Thank you Judith.

    Reply
  • Judith A.Ross November 12, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Dear Dore,
    These photos are just right for a breast care center. Your grandmother would have been both relaxed and proud!

    Reply