Living the Sweet Life: Stupid Strong

Charlotte Cantu, Jeff Netzer and Alisa Murray.

Hey Sweet Lifers! Through the years, I have been active in my community in helping bring awareness to special causes. You will recall the ten years of creating breast cancer calendars and the seven years of calendars of children with the disease. Using my art to help foster awareness and potentially raise funds for medicine is not a new thing, and it certainly has been an important part of what I feel is my responsibility as an artist. To know me is to understand that I have always thought of my friends and clients as family.

Last August the cousin of one of my families died of stomach cancer and left behind a seven-year-old son along with his wife. He was 46 years-old, and he died only 10 months after receiving the diagnosis.  My initial reasons for having created all those cancer calendars was that I had lost my own mother, not due to a diagnosis, but a train auto accident. I have so very few pictures of mother and being able to create images that are essentially immortal has been one of the most important aspects of me being an artist. Creating portraits that would be cherished after loved ones are gone has been my way of trying to “fix” things I can’t change.

Charlotte Cantu is a dear friend. She is a strong and beautiful soul who has the task now of raising their son at almost the exact same age as I was when mother was killed. This hits home, as you can imagine.

Adam and Graham Cantu.

Adam only had a few little symptoms in the months before seeing his doctor. A little difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite and as a result of that, weight loss. He tested positive for a bacteria called H. Pylori. By the time he was diagnosed, he was already Stage IV. The five-year survival rate of this type of cancer at stage IV is only five percent.

Before Adam died, he and Charlotte became a part of a stomach cancer advocacy group, and while they were in Washington D.C. requesting more funding from Congress, they met Jeff Netzer, co-founder of Stupid Strong. Jeff co-created, with his wife Candace, their grant-based non-profit after she received the same diagnosis. Out of her passion for cooking and enjoying foods, Candace would describe food as “Stupid Good!” And that is how this organization was born.

Stupid Strong has granted to date more than $775,000 to worthy institutions. The most recent was to The University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer Center. This November 14th from 9 am to 6 pm, there is a Memorial Softball Tournament in Adam Cantu’s honor. (Go to for details.) It will be held at the softball field in Sienna Plantation, and there will be teams playing, food trucks and family activities, but there will also be raffles and Adam’s beloved Harley Davison will be amongst the items. The raffle is online and can be found at I am on the marketing committee and also a sponsor for this event and have donated several gift certificates for photography. Please join us in a day to celebrate the life of a remarkable husband, father and community leader. Cancer takes so many of us way too soon, and we look forward to seeing you in support at the field!

Take Care of YOU and stay “sweet!”