It is with great sadness we share the news of the passing of Martha Haley, featured in our 2008 film In the Family.
Martha fought triple negative breast cancer three times, and lived to watch all three of her children go onto have children of their own. She devoted herself to educating other African American women about BRCA genetic testing and was a tireless advocate for better treatment options for women of color.
When Martha's cancer returned during the course of filming, she worked as a hospital volunteer fitting mastectomy patients for prosthetic breast inserts––despite being let go from her job as a breast clinic worker and losing her own medical coverage.
Says director Joanna Rudnick, "She was wickedly funny and a talented poet. She proudly and unapologetically shared what had become of her body after breast cancer. It was that fierceness combined with her huge heart that made her such an original."
Below watch an excerpt from the film in which Martha reads her poem entitled 'How.'
How can I fight you, when you insist on sneaking up on me?
How can I hide you, for everywhere I go you try to find me?
How can I see myself as a "woman" when you insist upon disfiguring me?
How can I look at my daughter, sister and friend and wonder are you
going to hurt them also.
How can I walk straight, when try to ripple through my bones?
How can I wake up when you try to tell me there's no need to get up?
"I'LL TELL YOU HOW"
I can because even though you sneak up on me, I know your there,
that's why the fight isn't over.
And why would I hide from you, seeing how you go out of your way to find me.
And I can still see myself as a woman, "Because" it's not what you
have done that defines my "Womanhood". I am a "Woman" by
God's Creation only and no one can take that away.
And I can look at my daughter, sister and friend, because as long as
they see the fighter in me, they too will be fighters.
And when you try to brittle my bones I still can walk straight, for
the road to recovery is just straight ahead.
And "YES" I can get up, because there's one thing you can't take from
me and that's the ability to be a "Survivor".
Written By Martha Darlene Liddell Haley
With a noted tradition of nurturing emerging talent and acting as a leading voice for independent media, Kartemquin is building on more than 50 years of history as Chicago’s documentary powerhouse.
Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Guidestar
© 2019 Kartemquin Educational Films
Sign up for the Kartemquin newsletter
Get film updates and special deals