On Oct. 10th, photographer Susan Buzzi will unveil her 8th consecutive breast cancer awareness gallery at Art Frenzie in Wilton Manors as a dedication to Bernadette Zizzo - a cancer survivor whose story inspired this year's showcase.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Titled "Bold and Brave Part 2," the gallery will present black and white photographs taken by Buzzi of cancer patients in both intimate and formal settings. There will be over 30 different displays, however Buzzi will highlight Zizzo's three yearlong survival story.
"I've know her through this entire journey. She has special story and special message to get out there," Buzzi said.
Zizzo was first diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2012. Throughout her treatment Buzzi photographed her double mastectomy and her reconstructive surgery.
When photographing, Buzzi can get as close as 12 inches away from the surgical table.
"Sometimes I'm the last person a patient sees and then the first person they see after waking up," Buzzi said.
Photographs that show patients like Zizzo on the surgical table are not the only kinds of photos visitors will see.
Other photos will show the day to day lives of the survivors and their accompanying stories will be of what it's like for them to continue life after being deemed cancer free.
"You can look at photographs of these people and never know that they went through eight or nine surgeries," Buzzi said. "The [photos] will show how these people tried to have a husband and family and move forward with their lives".
Both Zizzo and Buzzi hope the gallery will raise awareness about the disease, especially for the men and women of the LGBT community.
According to Buzzi, the lifestyle of most women in the LBT community keep them away from getting their annual exams and checkups because many lesbian women don't have children.
"Twenty years ago everybody was hush hush about it and it's still like that in certain populations," Buzzi said. "Bernadette is someone who is going to step up and talk about it."
Zizzo, who identifies as a lesbian, believes that her story and the stories of all the men and women who will be featured in the gallery will inevitably open the waves of communication about the disease.
"It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, what you have or what you don't have," Zizzo said. "One day you can wake up and it could all be taken away just like that."
After losing one of her best friends, Heidi, to the disease last month, Zizzo is even more eager to share her message and spread awareness than ever before.
"She was a fun, loving and free-spirited individual who touched everybody she came in contact with," Zizzo said. "This disease doesn't discriminate against anyone."
Staying vigilant and aware of the fragility of life is what Zizzo hopes people take away from the gallery.
"You have to humble yourself. You have to," she said.
Shortly after her own reconstructive surgery Zizzo contracted E coli and her implants had to be removed. She was left "surgery ready" ever since and she'll finally be going back for final surgery just three days after the gallery opens.
"It's funny because people will be looking at my photos in the gallery while I'm getting surgery," she said.
Moving forward with her life and putting her time and effort into helping other cancer survivors is something Zizzo is anxious and ready to do.
In 2013, she founded the Knock Out Cancer for the Cure Foundation in an effort to raise money for cancer survivors who have had reconstructive surgery but lack the insurance to get implants.
"Sometimes what will happen is people will get their breast removed, but won't have enough insurance or money to get implants," Zizzo said. "So, the foundation is to raise money so that those individuals can get implants, or tattooing. I just want to help them feel whole again."
With the past complications to her own reconstructive surgeries Zizzo hasn't had the adequate amount of time to put into the foundation. But, she hopes to do just that as soon as her final surgery is completed.
"I haven't been able to put my full self into like I once did," Zizzo said. "But, as soon as I can, I'll be back out there trying help as many people as I possibly can."
Zizzo also hopes to get her band 'Alter Ego' back together and play for stars like Ellen Degeneres like they have in the past.
"I have a lot more to write about now," Zizzo said. "I don't look at anything negatively. I try to put the positive spin on everything."
Art Frenzie is located at 2151 Wilton Drive. The show will run throughout the month of October.
The event is free for patrons, however a pink cab has been supplied by Yellow Cab and anyone who makes a donation will be able to sign the taxi.
"Bernadette has suffered through so much," Buzzi said. "But, she's risen like a phoenix and her story is going to help so many people."
For more information about the "Bold and Brave Part 2" gallery contact Art Frenzie at 954-560-3684.