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Educator Curates Library Exhibition That Explores Surviving Breast Cancer

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For Cal State Fullerton educator Sharon Chappell, breast cancer is personal.

While undergoing 10 months of chemotherapy, Chappell, a mother, artist and associate professor of elementary and bilingual education, curated a Pollak Library exhibition that explores the personal, political, social and medical issues related to breast cancer.

“Nevertheless, We Persisted” is now open through Dec. 24 in the library’s second-floor west terrace. The breast cancer awareness exhibition features artworks from CSUF faculty and staff members who are breast cancer survivors, as well as creations from local and national artists.

“This exhibition explores what it means to prevent and treat, educate, survive and thrive with breast cancer,” said Chappell, who specializes in gender diversity and LGBTQ inclusion.

A public reception from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, features a ‪”Hope Made Visible” workshop, led by expressive arts therapist Alessandra Colfi who will facilitate attendees — including cancer survivors — in the creation of their own “healing flag.”

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers, Chappell noted. Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 12 percent, or a 1 in 8 chance, she added.

Chappell began curating the exhibition in spring because making art helped her “survive and thrive” during treatment.

“I wanted to share how many women have used the arts in diverse ways to thrive through their own breast cancer experience. The artworks show universal emotions felt, as well as the variety of treatments and outcomes for breast cancer survivors,” said Chappell, who is committed to cancer education and advocacy, as well as children’s emotional well-being through cancer.

As she was undergoing treatment, Chappell also wrote “The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic!” The children’s book, to be published Nov. 2, offers education, connection and opportunities for families to discuss the disease. The exhibition features pages from the book, in which Chappell raised $8,000 to provide copies to families affected by cancer.

The exhibition is open during library hours. Visit online for more information. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.