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Valley Focus | Porter Ranch

Cancer Survivors Pose for Glamour Portraits

January 24, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

Breast-cancer survivors from throughout the Valley underwent professional hair and facial make-overs before posing for glamour portraits this week at the home of Harriet Oppenheim in Porter Ranch.

The photos will become a part of the Wall of Hope, an 82-foot-long traveling collage of 8-by-10 portraits of women who have survived the disease.

Oppenheim, a 22-year survivor of breast cancer, was first in line for the make-over and photo shoot.

"This is such a treat," said Oppenheim, 64, as foundation was being applied to her face by makeup artist Alam Dorri of Panache International, a Woodland Hills-based beauty salon, working in the breakfast room.

Oppenheim then moved into the dining room, where hairstylists brushed, curled and combed her hair.

"We're coordinating everything," said Suzette Hyams, manager at Panache, who said her staff volunteered to do the make-overs without charge. "It's a cause we believe in."

Meanwhile, in the family room of the Oppenheim residence, freelance photographer Brock Bliss has set up lighting and camera equipment.

Colorful silk outfits, glittering spangled jackets, feathered boas and fox furs were hung from hangers in the makeshift studio, while elbow-length gloves and jewelry were laid out on a small end table.

After hairstylists put the finishing touches on Oppenheim's hair, the host went into the family room for her photo session with Bliss.

"How do I look?" she asked as she wrapped a black feather boa around her neck.

During the two-day event, Bliss took five different poses of each of the 45 participants.

On Feb. 9 and 10, the women may visit Intimate Image in West Hills to choose their photos for the Wall of Hope, which currently has 700 entries with each person's name, age and year of diagnoses under each portrait.

Marilyn Gayler Axelrod, 50, who founded the Wall of Hope in 1994 after her breast-cancer diagnosis in 1990, said the wall is a source of positive energy for survivors.

"It's pretty moving and dramatic to see all the photos and you get all kinds of reactions at the Wall of Hope when they see the exhibit," said Axelrod, who added that the wall will be out on public display throughout Southern California in April, May and June.

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