Survivor Portrait Gallery

Judy Poznik

Survivor Portrait Gallery - Judy Poznik


Judy Poznik with her son and daughter. © 2009 Mark Jason Photography

Water Mill, New York
Age 60
15-year breast cancer survivor

What does being a Survivor mean to you?
Being a survivor means that I shared the transformation of my daughter from the eight-year-old little girl dressed in a pink leotard and tights and my 11-year old boy just before he got braces, which was how they looked on the day of my diagnosis, to the 24-year old young woman and the 27-year old young man they are today.

Although I became part of a club that I never wanted to join, it is the club of Survivors that has allowed me to find the essence of my womanhood, to keep my priorities in proper order, and to accept the grace of aging.

  • Being a survivor means that when my daughter first began to get breast buds, she fearfully came to me and thought she had breast cancer.
  • Being a survivor means that when my son was in his early teens and learned that a girl in his class had a mom who was turning 40 that he thought it important to tell the girl to be sure to have her mom get her baseline mammogram.
  • Being a survivor is my everyday reality, today and forever, because there will never be a day of my life that I forget the raw nakedness of the emotional journey I have taken, which has far surpassed the physical journey I began on November 9, 1993.

The scars upon my body and the absence of my breast replaced by its reconstructed counterpart serve as visual reminders, but it is through the inner vision of my eyes of survivorship that I have been allowed to see the invisible perfection of life.

How has being a Survivor affected your life?
To know how breast cancer has affected me would mean that I would know how I would be had I not had breast cancer, and I will never know this. What I know for sure is that my getting breast cancer nearly 16 years ago has most certainly affected every aspect of my life, and that I have embraced its impact.

  • If I had not had breast cancer, I venture to say I would not have had the courage to take swimming lessons in a chilly lake in springtime to get over my fear of water.
  • If I had not had breast cancer, I doubt that I would have had the fortitude to go to law school and become at attorney at the age of 52, which involved commuting three hours round trip to school each day of classes as a single mom.
  • If I had not had breast cancer, I do not believe I would have wanted to mark the milestone of my 60th birthday, which is also the 15th year of my survivorship, by learning to run this past winter and spring so I could run in the Susan G. Komen New York City Race for the Cure in September.

Sometimes, in the stillness of my own solitude, I must admit that I do wonder what I would be like if I had never had breast cancer. Sometimes I miss who I imagine I would have been, and then I remember that the beauty of the tapestry of life is that I am only me because of all of my life experiences, including breast cancer, and simply being me and being alive is enough.

How would you like to be photographed?
As you can probably surmise, by seeing the photo of me with my two young adult children on my 60th birthday, I would want to be photographed with them. Probably the most appropriate place to be photographed would be at our home in Water Mill, New York, preferably in my garden when it is in glorious bloom.

Learn about Survivor Portrait Gallery and how to become a featured Survivor.