Breast Cancer & How Sewing Saved Me
Not only is October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s also the anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. I was too young for a mammogram, and I was nursing twins so my breasts were a different shape, size and thickness every hour, every day, every week, depending on how much milk I produced. It was only when my twin girls started rejecting my left breast that I thought something might be wrong.
When my breast didn’t soften after weaning, I thought I might have mastitis. But my doctor visit proved otherwise. Immediately my doctor ordered a biopsy, which quickly turned into an MRI and surgery consult. It all went to fast, yet still plays out in slow motion in my head.
I went through six chemo treatments and 26 radiation treatments, a double mastectomy, followed by reconstruction. During all this time, the sewing community opened its arms to me and showered me with so much love and support. It was overwhelming.
My coworkers organized a meal train for my chemo weeks. I had delicious homemade meals delivered to my doorstep for seven days following a chemo day. What a lifesaver for my family–my husband didn’t have to worry about what to serve the kids, and we could focus on me getting well. The sewing team rallied around me and worked diligently so no T was left uncrossed and all magazines went out without a hitch. My industry friends and ad partners donated funds to my cause and sent endless cards, emails and texts to check on me. I couldn’t believe the outpouring of love.
Even people I had never met reached out because of our common bond of sewing. When I was admitted to the hospital for my first of several surgeries, I was given some handmade pouches to hold my drainage pouches. I was also gifted two small pillows for my armpits to comfort that area. I was given several hats throughout my treatment, donated by knitters, sewists and quilters in the area. These people never knew me, but knew what I needed.
When I was diagnosed, the statistic was 1 in every 8 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Now I hear it’s 1 in 5. If you’re looking to use your sewing talents to help those women in need, or anyone suffering from cancer of any type, I encourage you to get involved and use some of your fabric stash to put a smile on someone’s face. It takes about 15 minutes to sew a couple of pouches and less than 1/4 yard of fabric. Even if you’re not affiliated with a charity, many hospitals will accept these types of donations for their patients. Simply call the cancer ward of your local hospital and ask what they might need.
Here’s how to sew an anti-ouch pouch, which is a little pillow that looks like a purse. It’s a great gift for a friend or a stranger in need. And here’s a pink ribbon embroidery design you can whip up to show your support on a jacket, hat or headband. Enjoy it for free for the month of October.