Survivor donates mural to Norma Pfriem Breast Center

Breast cancer survivor Susan Murray of Monroe (center) presents her mural to Drs. Donna Twist (left) and Mary Pronovost (right) of the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center.

“Be Strong.”
Those are just some of the words that are readily visible on the 4 by 6 foot mural hanging in the meditation room of the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center’s Fairfield branch.
The artwork was created by Monroe resident Susan Murray, who knows a little something about empowerment, faith and being strong. Murray, 50, was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in 2009 and received her treatments through the Pfriem Center, which is run by Bridgeport Hospital. “It was obviously pretty traumatic and a pretty big adjustment to my entire world,” Murray said.

Through it all, Murray said, she maintained a “keep calm and carry on” attitude — something she was taught by her mother, who lived in London during World War II. She was also grateful for the kindness and professionalism of the breast center staff. “They really just all so incredible there,” Murray said.

Today, Murray’s her cancer treatments are done and, as far as she knows, she’s cancer-free. But she’s remained active in fundraising, particularly for Norma Pfriem. A few years ago, she decided she want to do something really special to pay tribute to the center.

Murray, an artist by profession, created a mural that she thought illustrated the core values of the Pfriem Center. It was made with a product called Aurastone, an architectural coating that can make any surface look like natural stone. “Stone is a symbol of strength,” Murray pointed out. The mural was covered in pictures of roses, the symbol of the Norma Pfriem Center. Then she covered the piece in encouraging words and phrases.

For the past two years, she’s displayed the mural at the Fairfield County Irish Festival, and encouraged breast cancer survivors and those whose family members had battled breast cancer to sign the mural. The goal of the mural is to inspire those struggling with their own diagnosis, Murray said. “The idea was to let people know that they’re not alone,” she said.

Eventually, she decided to donate the piece to the Pfriem center, so it could offer comfort to women coming there for treatment. However, she worried that its size would be daunting and wasn’t sure what staff would do with it. “I said ‘You can just throw it in the closet if you like,’ ” Murray said.

But it turned out that the mural was a big hit with staff. “They loved it,” she said. “They fought over where to hang it.” It’s now at the Fairfield branch (Norma Pfriem also has a location at Bridgeport Hospital).

Murray is sponsoring a fundraiser Oct. 13 at the Norden Club, 4 Seabright Ave., Bridgeport. For information, you can call her at 203-231-0706.

Amanda Cuda