Friday Fighters

Survivor to Advocate: An Interview with Andrea Tsang Jackson

Andrea Tsang Jackson Interview at Quilts for Cure

Quilts for Cure exists to raise awareness about childhood cancer and make quilts for kids with cancer. We honor Smiley Kylie Myers by making quilts to encourage other kiddos. A beautiful side effect of this work, is that quilters who are passionate about this cause are creating their own community. I love hearing the stories of all the quilters who are part of Quilts for Cure, but when Andrea sent me snippet of her story, I had to pull off the road and read it immediately. We have been honored to have many adult cancer survivors be part of our efforts to send quilts to kiddos with cancer, but as far as I know, Andrea is the first childhood cancer survivor to be part of our work. 

 Here and Elsewhere Bee Quilt

Here and Elsewhere Bee Quilt

Andrea Tsang Jackson of 3rd Story Workshop is an amazing modern quilter who has a passion for storytelling. While her textile arts have focused on the stories of others (like the Here and Elsewhere Bee Quilt above and the Our Song Quilt below), I had the privilege to ask about her story for this interview. As a child, Andrea faced Ewing's Sarcoma, the same cancer that Kylie and Bailey had, and learned some beautiful truths about hope and community.

Andrea is an amazing story of hope and an asset to both the quilting and childhood cancer communities. Thank you for sharing with us, Andrea!

If you would like more information about Andrea's most recent project, Our Song Your Reflection, click here to learn about and consider supporting the project. And stay tuned for when the music video releases-- you'll be able to spot a Quilts for Cure project in the mix!

Andrea Tsang Jackson Interview at Quilts for Cure (Our Song Quilt)

(All photos curtesy of 3rd Story Workshop)

Operation Smiley

Collaborating with Kylie

 Modern Sewciety's Mod Heart Block from her BOM. Modern Sewcialites Members can choose to make this block for #OperationSmiley 

Modern Sewciety's Mod Heart Block from her BOM. Modern Sewcialites Members can choose to make this block for #OperationSmiley 

Each year, 16,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer in the United States.

A school bus full of kids every day.

Almost no new drugs have been developed specifically for treating children since the 1980s. Instead, we treat kids with drugs made for adults, and the side effects include infertility, brain damage, blindness, secondary cancers, and death. We treat our children with poison and hope it kills the cancer first.

Some cancers, such as the brain cancer DIPG have a 0% survival rate.

Collaborating with Kylie - Quilts for Cure

The first time I read these statistics, I cried. Then I got really mad. Because of these statistics, Kylie died. Beautiful, bright, talented Kylie—one of the most wonderful students I ever had the privilege of teaching—missed her Broadway debut because of stupid cancer. I went to her funeral with my six week old baby boy strapped to my chest, and I cried some more. Out of the horrible shock of it all came a single question:

What can I do?

A mom. A maker. A teacher. Not a scientist, not a wealthy philanthropist, not a doctor.

Kylie was a dancer, a singer, and an artist. She had a huge heart for people. She was a natural, generous encourager.

Collaborating with Kylie - Quilts for Cure

I decided that I would fight cancer like Kylie did: with creativity, with encouragement, and with joy. I can push back against the darkness of cancer by listening to the stories of children and their families and sharing them with my creative community. I can push back by making quilts to keep kids warm and to make the hospital feel just a little happier. And, most importantly, I can invite other quilters to join me.

I can invite YOU to join me. There are 16,000 kids each year who need a quilt—we’ve got work to do!

This spring, we’ve set a modest goal: 16 quilts in honor of Kylie’s sweet sixteen. Since she’s not here to spread smiles, we’re going to do it for her. This project is called #OperationSmiley2018, and we want your help! Today, take two easy steps to fight back against childhood cancer. First, share what you’ve learned with another quilter and ask them to help, too. Second, make a block. 

My word of the year is COLLABORATION, and I want to work with you!

Together, let’s turn the quilting world gold for childhood cancer!

(Update since I started writing-- we're past 16 quilts already! But let's keep going! How many can we make to honor Kylie and her fellow fighters? 26? 56? 106? Let's find out!)

Collaborating with Kylie - Quilts for Cure

Operation Smiley

Operation Smiley 2018

Operation Smiley 2018 at Quilts for Cure

Hey Fighters! 

It's time to celebrate our sweet Kylie. Kylie Myers, aka Smiley Kylie, brightened this world with her gorgeous smile for nearly 13 years. Now, we raise awareness about childhood cancer and make quilts for kiddos in treatment in her honor. Last year, we made 10 quilts. Kylie's 16th birthday is on February 24th-- do y'all think we can make the 320 blocks it would take to make 16 quilts in her honor? I think we can!!

Heart Block 1 by CluckCluckSew Operation Smiley 2018
Heart Block 2 by Modern Sewciety Operation Smiley 2018

Who: All quilters, aspiring quilters, crafty people, or anyone willing to give a bit of cutting and sewing a try
What: 10 inch finished (10.5 unfinished) Cluck Cluck Sew Heart Blocks in white, blue/navy/aqua, and/or yellow OR Modern Sewciety's 12 inch (12.5 unfinished) February Mod Heart block from the 2018 BOM (must be a Modern Sewcialite Member to access this pattern option) in the same colors
When: 2018
Where: Mail your block(s) to: Quilts for Cure PO Box 1831 Duluth, GA 30096
Goal: 16 quilts to celebrate Kylie's sweet sixteen (320 blocks)
Tag on Instagram Photos: @quiltsforcure #quiltsforcure #operationsmiley2018 #quiltersvscancer

Other materials needed: 100% cotton batting, cotton border/backing/binding fabrics (navy prints and solids, quilt shop quality), Aurifil 50wt cotton thread (white, navy, yellow, or light gray). Donations can be sent to the address above

If you are interested in helping assemble and quilt these quilts, please email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org

 Kylie as I remember her best-- when she was in the classroom where I was an assistant for two years

Kylie as I remember her best-- when she was in the classroom where I was an assistant for two years

I simply cannot thank you all enough for joining me in this second annual celebration of Kylie and her spirit of joy, encouragement, and generosity. These quilts will end up all over the country as a bit of warmth and love to just a few of the 16,000 kids who will be diagnosed this year. To stay up to date on all the goings on here at Quilts for Cure (and there are quite a few coming up!), please join our newsletter!

It will cost about $2000 to purchase batting, thread, borders/backing/binding, and shipping labels for 16 quilts. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today!

Gold Forever, 
HollyAnne