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By Collin Breaux

Arabella Proffer was supposed to die last August—but as she proudly declares, she’s still here.

Proffer was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, but she continues to live out her passion for art and music, and spend time with family in Orange County. The Dana Hills High School alumna, who graduated in 1996, has quite a life story.

She grew up in Michigan before moving with her mother and stepfather to California, eventually settling in South Orange County. She found her “punk rock tribe” in the area and went to music shows, and she also started painting at the age of 14.

Arabella Proffer, who graduated from Dana Hills High School in 1996, was diagnosed with cancer last year. She is continuing to live her life to the fullest. Photo: Dr. Brandy Schillace.

“This town appreciates the arts,” Proffer said.

Proffer painted punk rock girls with ruffled gowns—in her words, she was just as influenced by the historic Dana Point home she lived in as she was by her punk friends. She went on to attend the California Institute of the Arts and start a record label with her husband, as well as getting a job at an art gallery.

“I decided L.A. was getting too expensive and annoying, so I moved the record label to Cleveland, Ohio,” Proffer said. “That was 2004.”

Proffer has gallery representations in Germany, Pittsburgh, New York, and online. She is planning to do more art shows as time goes on, though hasn’t been able to paint since her diagnosis. She has been doing drawings, though—mostly of housewives from reality shows.

Proffer’s fascination with punk rock began more with the fashion than the music, though some of her initial favorite bands included Sex Pistols, Subhumans, and The Damned. Whereas black nail polish and tattoos were once taboo symbols of the punk culture, those have now become high fashion, she said.

“Going to punk shows and seeing a mosh pit, that was a revelation,” Proffer said. “That was so raw and angry. I loved it.”

As for her visiting her family and friends from school, Proffer said it’s been nice getting together with people. Check out her work at

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