When Jodie was 5, she told her mother she wouldn't live past 35. Last Friday, Jodie turned 35. She has Stage IV breast cancer, and is hoping this last chance chemo might buy more time.
I met Jodie a few years ago at an opening of my photographs in the city. A friend of a friend directed her to my site after she was diagnosed. We hit it off and began to spend some time together. She moved to LA for work and I visited her while there for a week long shoot. She showed me her art work that she kept beneath her bed in a dog crate. I was immediately drawn to it. Tight doodles, lines, curves and curls working together to make a larger image. What kind of mind could produce this? Hours of work, huddled over paper, marking, scribbling, doodling. I was intrigued.
A year or so later, Jodie was diagnosed with a recurrence of the original cancer. It went to her liver and lungs. Over time, the disease progressed and she was unable to continue working and living on her own. She has been bravely enduring chemo, radiation and an every 4 hour regimen of pills. Still, the cancer progressed to her brain and now...inside of her lungs, making it difficult to breathe and talk.
Her friends who are fiercely devoted to her, her twin brother and her parents gave her a party in Southampton last weekend. My partner and I were delighted to be invited. When we arrived, Jodie greeted us, we gave her a gift and chatted for a few moments. She and her mother decided it was best for her to rest a bit longer...before the party really begun. Later, when I checked my phone, there was a text from her apologizing for not being out front. That's Jodie. ALWAYS thinking of others, not wanting to impose or offend. I was blown away by this action. Really struck by it. Her selflessness at a time when it should be all about her. When everyone wants it to be all about her. She won't have it. Won't become something she's never been.
I try not to think about losing Jodie. It was clear at her party that so many people love her. Her best friend Karen at her side always. Never leaving. Attending to her in a way that only a best friend can. I try not to think about how Karen will feel or Josh, Jodie's twin. The host of the party, Tim and Jodie's parents, Stu and Deb. And me. Losing another person I love to breast cancer.
I've always wanted Jodie's work to be seen. Early on, she gave me a drawing of breast cancer she made. I framed it and hung it in my house. I think it was the first piece to be matted and framed. Something switched for her when she saw the piece in this completed state. She reluctantly agreed to be a part of a group show last fall. Two of three pieces sold. In honor of Jodie, there will be an opening of her work on October 23, 2009 at ART(that matters) in Oyster Bay, NY. This was my gift to her on her 35th birthday. Her work is her gift to me and you.