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Siren of the Sea: Painter Elizabeth Mumford

That richness of spirit and humor is perhaps her greatest weapon against a recent turn of events. In 2008, Mumford was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. For more than a year, her simple yet regular routine was smashed against the rocks in exchange for trips to Massachusetts General Hospital, the kindness of strangers and professionals, and a wheelchair for a short stint. However, the insidious disease has met a foe unlike any other in Mumford. A multi-year period of success and health has been countered by another round of undesirable diagnoses in the last year, but she seems to be unwavering in her mission to move forward.

Today, she paints almost every day. She battles against the seaside bunnies in her courtyard garden, and she and her devoted Black Labrador Lucy admire the endless varieties of birds that visit her feeders and walk the beach in search of treasure. She sings on Sundays in the choir of St. Peter’s in Osterville. She is involved with a dizzying list of nonprofits and local organizations; she is organizing a historic archive project. She teaches her painting techniques through various local art organizations and private groups. Somehow she still finds time to work on her golf game. “I have a high handicap so I’m lucky,” she states with her signature optimism. And to celebrate an extraordinarily good day recently that included a positive diagnosis and the sale of a couple of original paintings, she bought herself a stand-up paddle board.

The song that emanates from Liz Mumford and her work is not dissimilar to Homer’s Sirens. But unlike their alleged ill intent, the attraction to her paintings and her beguiling nature is an inclination you want to follow. Her world, after all, is full of mermaids, sailors and smiling, laughing children. What a wonderful way to live.

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