Mary Fisher has written a beautiful new book, Messenger: A Self Portrait. And she surely is a messenger of courage, passion and commitment. I met Mary Fisher in 1992, soon after she was diagnosed with HIV. I was told that Mary was the daughter of a powerful lifelong Republican, was a Republican herself and, as I discovered, was a wonderfully powerful woman who was feeling a bit overwhelmed by her recent news at the time we met. She had come to Santa Fe with her two young sons, Max and Zack. Over lunch, we began to talk about everything related to dealing with her new diagnosis but, as often happens with me, we started to talk politics, where we learned about each other’s political affiliations and became great friends anyway. I’ll just skip to the part where later on in the year she quite famously addressed the Republican National Convention, leaving not one dry eye in the house. As she stood at the podium and delivered her moving and profound speech, she gave the world a different face of American AIDS: a mother who contracted the virus from her former husband. Mary was no stranger to politics: She had been the first woman White House “advanceman;” she served at the pleasure of President Ford. She had also worked in television. So, she knew how to take on a challenge. She became ''a pilgrim on the road to AIDS,'' devoted to advocacy and to her boys. Yet, times were uncertain because though she had a great medical team, she could not be sure of what would happen to her, so she also prepared to die.
Her life changed dramatically with the development of new antiretroviral therapies. Currently, protease inhibiters offer her a prolonged life, which she lives with passion and purpose. Mary is an artist whose work radiates her beautiful spirit and speaks for, to, and of the disenfranchised through images and words. She is also the author of five other books, makes speeches all over the world and founded an NGO named ABATAKA which employs HIV positive women in Rwanda and Zambia to execute Mary’s designs for beautiful beaded jewelry and provides them with means to support themselves and rise out of poverty.
Buy these beautiful objects of art and support the women who make them. And please buy Messenger you will be so glad that you did.
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