Friday, July 12, 2019

Case Study #63 - Jose Renewing his Vows

"Jose Renewing his Vows" - Oil on Canvas. 30" x 24". 2019
Jose grew up in the Riverdale neighborhood of the North Bronx, in New York City. He lived there with his stay at home mother, his father a US Postal Carrier, and his older brother. At a young age, Jose knew he had several cafĂ© au lait spots but was always told they were birthmarks. He was born with NF1, passed onto him from his father. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that he knew he also had NF. His doctor never brought it up, and his family had a very little understanding of it. Jose would wear a t-shirt in the pool because other children would ask him about his spots, and that made him very sad. They would taunt him, and say many hurtful things. It wasn’t until his teenage years when he started developing confidence in his appearance.

prep sketch
Years later, life brought him to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and he resides in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. He has been married to his wife Stephanie since 2008, and they have three girls: Dalia, Shea, and Izabella. Shea and Izabella also have NF1. With a better understanding of NF, the Torres family has worked hard to create more awareness around NF in their community. They worked with a local dance academy to put on a recital/fundraiser that raised thousands of dollars for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Additionally, they raised money to light up an iconic bridge with Green and Blue on NF awareness days, and they have taken part in multiple NF Walks. Although the tumors have become numerous in Jose’s adult life, NF1 has not stopped Jose from loving life, and he does not allow his NF1, and the bumps (tumors) on his skin define him. Stephanie and Jose are raising their children with that same attitude. When Jose isn’t spending time with his family, he is enjoying his job as the Associate Director of Sales and Training for Oregon Market, a large retail company. 

The painting is of Jose, on one of the best days of his life. He is renewing his vows with his wife of 10 years. She has not only been the best life partner he could have, but she has become a voice, and force creating NF awareness in the community. On September 15th, 2018 Jose and Stephanie were finally able to have the wedding they always wanted. It was just a few days after their 10th wedding anniversary. 10 years ago, Jose’s mother was suffering from a terminal cancer known as Multiple Myeloma, it was very important to both Stephanie and Jose that his mother got to see him get married. They scheduled a date at the court house, and his mother was able to see her youngest get married. Between a move back to Oregon from New York, 3 children, and a full decade the time was finally right. The day was perfect, many family members, and friends spent a beautiful evening together celebrating the love that Jose and Stephanie have for each other. 

Jose encourages everyone with NF to not let NF alone define them, and seek out what makes him or her happy. He fully understands the difficulty that NF can cause in people’s lives, and hopes that one day it is a thing of the past. He encourages all NF fighters to keep fighting, and spread the word. He believes that through awareness, we can find a cure.

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