SUZI FORST: HER HONORABLE AND JOYFUL LADY JUSTICE
Wife, mother, traveler, manager, faith-filled volunteer
Daughter of cancer survivor
Diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in 2010 at 36
Double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, reconstruction
Suzi doesn’t have visions or hear voices, but one day she was overwhelmed by a feeling that she needed to be seen for a medical checkup. Stat.
The doctor who saw Suzi told her that she likely had inflammatory breast disease.
“The doctor said ‘disease,’ but I ran home and checked with Dr Google and right away, I knew,” she said. “I knew.”
All cancer is scary, but Suzi’s is the kind that is terrifying–aggressive and fast moving. She began six months of chemotherapy almost immediately so the cancer could be tamed enough to be surgically removed in a double mastectomy. A hysterectomy and seven reconstruction and revision surgeries have followed.
“I prayed for peace one day, not for healing or a cure and I wasn’t scared anymore,” she said. “I had what I needed to get through it.”
Since finishing treatment, Suzi has travelled to Uganda to take part in a massive international effort to assist widows whose property had been systematically stolen. She was part of a team that organized and archived 60,000 files to bring justice to thousands of women who lost everything when they lost their husbands. To help them restore what was theirs.
Restoring, she decided, is a kind of healing. Working for justice in a world that is profoundly unfair deepened Suzi’s sense of purpose. “Her Honorable and Joyful Lady Justice” is a fighter who may not be able to change everything that is wrong, but is heroic because she doesn’t give up.
“I have faith. I live with passion,” she said. “I know being positive doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to make it. But I’m moving forward. Life is sweet.”
DRAWING OUT THE SUPERHERO WITHIN: Artist’s notes
One of Suzi’s coworkers came through my studio at ArtAWhirl, saw the portraits, and said “There is someone you need to meet!”
Suzi-Q wrote to me soon: “I have a plastic goose that I bring with me places and people give me costumes for her and one of them is a superhero costume, so that’s gotta count for something, right?” — Instant YES.
Suzi is bright, bouncy, hilarious; her Caring Bridge journal entry about bedside emergency surgery reads like stand-up comedy. She dove deeply into her superhero process, integrating her faith and search for meaning. Joy and Justice rose to the top.
She chose a pose that says “joy” – flying at the viewer with her justice-and-joke-wielding gavel/bottle opener (humor is one of her superpowers) and her evil-fighting superhero goose sidekick flying alongside. The pink sparkle gun she used to “zap” those cancer cells is now spreading Joy to the world. And of course — a judge’ robe.
The “aha” artist’s moment for me was “seeing” her flying out of a sunset — pinks, purples, yellows, oranges — which balanced out the black robe and white goose. Plus the look in her eye, that dazzling smile, we can’t help but be saved! – Barbara Porwit