Superhero Margaret Udo, RN

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In 2022, Margaret Udo, RN, discovered a lump in her breast.  She had just recently gone through a work transition, accepting a job at HCMC in Oncology. Her cancer turned out to be the worst kind of aggressive breast cancer you can have – triple negative Stage 2. She found out two days before Christmas and had to wait to talk to the doctor for more details until after the holiday. She’s been through many challenges along the way – not having insurance coverage due to a change in jobs, a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy.

Margaret’s courage and resilience as she faced and conquered breast cancer inspired the Wanzek Breast Cancer Center team at Hennepin Healthcare to nominate her for the Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait.

“Margaret had the additional challenge of being a healthcare provider and continue to care for patients while undergoing treatment herself,” said Rachel Koreth, MD at the portrait unveiling event on Wednesday, June 26. “Through this, she has demonstrated an unfailing quiet courage and grace, epitomizing a daily heroism. It is truly an honor to support her – and all our patients – through this process.”

Dr. Koreth read a poem by Emily Dickinson at the event:

We never know how high we are
Till we are asked to rise
And then if we are true to plan
Our statures touch the skies

Img 9926Margaret, who is originally from Nigeria, chose to have her Superhero portrait painted as Shuri – King T’Challa’s younger sister from the movie Black Panther.

“I chose the Black Panther superhero because as a person of African heritage, it’s exciting to see African people shown as strong, courageous and advanced,” she explained.

Known for her intelligence, courage, and confidence, Shuri is a beloved character who understands the importance of her position. The portrait painted by guest artist Geno Okok with Margaret embodies this same spirit, but features Margaret’s superpowers: faith, family and determination.

“Upon meeting Margaret, I was immediately struck by her dignified beauty and quiet grace,” said Geno. “Learning about her life story, that grace goes deep through her whole spirit. She’s been through so much yet continues to care and have faith. As an artist and a fellow Nigerian American, I felt a great responsibility to do her justice in this painting. And with our shared African heritage, it’s great to bring more of our story to light in a way that uplifts the best qualities we know we have.”

An active pose was chosen for the portrait.

“I included a cross in the background to represent her family and her faith. The panther represents courage, and strength. Her foot on the rock symbolizes crushing cancer. Most of all, I wanted to capture her strength and beauty.”

That he did. After the portrait was unveiled, the crowd surrounding Margaret – including her friends, colleagues and family – gasped, cheered and clapped.

“I love it,” said Margaret. “I can’t believe it. Wow – it’s just great – thank you!”

The portrait will be on display through September 27, 2024. Donations to Hennepin Healthcare’s Inspire Arts program allowed this unique portrait commission to be part of the Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project.


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