The photos are intimate, haunting, the kind of images that leave an imprint long after you’ve walked away.
That’s Lisa Boccard’s intent. She wants you to stare, to ask why and how.
The Cure Package, an exhibit of 15 studio portraits at the ACND Gallery of Art at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep, is a story of survival, a tale of change — and a narrative that has many chapters left yet. Its opening coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Shot more than 20 years ago by Miami photographer Lynn Parks, the photographs feature a young Boccard — bald, scarred, with medicine bottles and next to a wig-wearing mannequin. The images are stark, in unforgiving black and white, with the last one in color, symbolizing triumph.
“This was a personal journey for me,” says Boccard, now 51 and living in Coral Springs. “I wanted to find a way for my friends and family to see me as something other than a patient.”
The idea to be photographed was an act of courage. Back then breast cancer patients hid their scars and spoke little of their surgeries. “She was truly a pioneer in wanting other women to know,” recalls Parks, who has photographed several breast cancer patients since Boccard. “It’s more common now, with social media and everything, but it was very unusual back then. Women just didn’t do that.”
The photographs proved to be a launch pad for Boccard, who became active in breast cancer advocacy even as she struggled through treatment. In fact, two years into a fight for her life, Boccard spent months collecting signatures for a 1993 petition to then-President Bill Clinton, urging him to make breast cancer a national priority. As an active member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and then a co-founder of the Florida Breast Cancer Coalition, she knocked on doors and approached restaurant diners for their John Hancocks. She spoke to whatever group would have her. In 1994, she posed on the cover of Copy, a national magazine for cancer patients.
In 2003, one of Lisa’s older brothers, Vince Boccard, the current Coral Springs mayor, and his wife, Terry, founded the Lisa Boccard/Coral Springs Breast Cancer Foundation, with Lisa devoting hours of volunteer work. They eventually approached Broward Health Coral Springs to become their healthcare partner in an ambitious goal to offer free mammograms to women unable to afford them. Eventually that mission was expanded to also provide breast care treatment to financially needy women. So far the fund has provided more than 1,000 mammograms in Broward and identified 54 women with breast cancer. It has also funded follow-up treatment.
Advocacy has become Lisa’s way of healing. Five years ago, she moved from her longtime home in Miami to Coral Springs to devote more time to what is now the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund.
“I didn’t grow up like other people to be a judge or a lawyer,” Boccard says. “I grew up to become an advocate.”
The photo exhibit, which premiered almost two decades ago at the Towers of Quayside, a residential community in Northeast Miami-Dade, fits into Boccard’s mission to help other women in their fight against breast cancer. The marketing and gallery curator at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep chose the collection to kick off the school’s artist alumni series — Boccard graduated from Notre Dame in 1980 — because she was fascinated by Boccard’s story.