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City of Birmingham Unveils Mural Celebrating Breast Cancer Fighters and Survivors

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From left: Erica Reasor, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center; Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson; Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin; Deidre Green, founder of V.I.R.T.U.E. Inc., Pastor Steve Green, More Than Conquerors Faith Church. (Keisa Sharp-Jefferson, The Birmingham Times)

By Kesia Sharp-Jefferson

The Birmingham Times

A mural was unveiled Tuesday in Birmingham City Hall to not only highlight the devastating effects of breast cancer, but to also celebrate those who are still on the path toward healing.

“Women on the Journey” depicts women of all backgrounds, faiths, ages, and stages of life who have been impacted by breast cancer and will be on display on the second floor of Birmingham’s City Hall, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 17 through Friday, Dec. 1 on Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We are thrilled to … unveil this powerful mural,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time for reflection, education, and support, and this mural is a testament to the strength and unity of our community.”

The paintings were commissioned by artist Jamie Bonfiglio, a forensic scientist turned freelance artist, at the request of Deidre Green, founder of V.I.R.T.U.E. Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer and women’s health.

Two additional paintings and two letters from breast cancer survivors are also on display with the mural.

Green said she’s been advocating for breast cancer survivors for more than 18 years and the idea for the murals came out of her prayer time and the result of a promise she made to a former church staffer “to raise awareness and promote early intervention as it relates to breast cancer awareness.”

 

“For nearly two decades, V.I.R.T.U.E., Inc. has hosted events and programs as well as our virtual run with a mission to shine a light on breast cancer and its impact,” Green said. “This mural project is a fresh way to continue our mission of awareness. It captures the essence of women touched by this disease … We hope women (and men) across Birmingham will be inspired to celebrate the brave individuals on their breast cancer journey, and also be reminded to provide support, and, more importantly, get tested.”

Members of the medical community and local lawmakers, as well as supporters of cancer survivors, attended the special unveiling.

Outside of skin cancer, statistics show breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in females each year. Stats show one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

“We want to be able to educate and empower,” said Erica Reasor, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. “So, as we go on with this Breast Cancer Awareness month, have a wellness check-in for yourself, and then check in on your sister or your brother.”

Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson said the fight against breast cancer “is a crown of courage to find it … to accept it to help people who are going through it suffering with [it] in our community.”

Immediately following the mural unveiling, a lunch and learn was held in City Hall to featuring Reasor and other breast cancer survivors, advocates and supporters. She shared important risk factors, informational resources and diet and exercise tips for the attendees.

Bonfiglio’s art has been featured in USA Today, in art collections all over the world, and in murals across Birmingham.  She recently painted the mural of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth on the Legal Services building downtown.

“The inspiration behind the breast cancer awareness mural is a desire to celebrate the strength and resilience of women,” Bonfiglio said. “The vibrant colors and varied depictions serve as a testament to the beauty and power found within the tapestry of human experiences. This mural is a visual ode to the unwavering spirit of women, reminding us that together, we stand stronger against the challenges that breast cancer presents.”

For more information about the mural project and V.I.R.T.U.E., Inc., visit birminghamal.gov/virtue.