Friday Fighters

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)

Friday Fighters

Friday Fighter :: Wes Pak, Age 11, Neuroblastoma

Quilts for Cure- Quilts for Kids with Cancer

Hello Friends!

I have the most wonderful news: 6 quilts are going out to kiddos this weekend from #OperationSmiley and the #MoreThan4QAL. So many of you have been part of these quilts-- through blocks, whole quilts, supplies, and donations of shipping funds-- THANK YOU!!

Wes Pak- Neuroblastoma Fighter

Today, I want you to meet one of the kids who will soon be cuddled in a Quilts for Cure quilt. Wes Pak is only 11 years old, but he is fighting Neuroblastoma for the 6th time in 6 years. Allow me to share his mama's words:

My name is Krista and up until June 2011 I was just your typical wife/mom stuck in my everyday routine. But as you all know, things can change so quickly as it did for us almost 6 years ago. I have been married to my husband Myong for 10 years and together we have 3 sweet boys (Wes 11, Ebin almost 6, and Eli almost 4) and are residents of York County, Virginia. In June 2011 my oldest son Wes (then 5) was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a nasty monster, a childhood cancer.

A 13cm tumor was found in his abdomen in addition to cancerous lymph nodes in his neck after having what doctors thought was constipation and a “slow in his growth spurt”. Since that day we have been living in what seems like a never-ending nightmare. My son Wes has undergone so much in his short 11 years including well over 25+ cycles of chemotherapy cocktails, 36 rounds of radiation, 16 rounds of antibody treatments as a part of an attempted but failed (for us) clinical trial, attempted but failed vaccine trial, 6+ major life threatening surgeries, numerous bone marrow biopsies, and more needles/transfusions/scans/etc. than I care to count.

Surgery came at a price of course, resulting in needing to have his left kidney removed, left adrenal gland removed, part of his liver and intestines removed, as well as have his colon taken apart and put back together multiple times. It has also caused damage to muscle in his pelvis and issues with his GI tract. He is currently on his 4th relapse and his last scans have shown progression (which is not a word you want to hear in the cancer world). Because there is not any protocol for relapsed neuroblastoma, my son is now dependent on clinical trials and the trial/error process of chemo drugs, though statistically the odds are not in our favor. His cancer has a specific mutation known as ATRX and is linked to chronic, fatal neuroblastoma meaning it is likely he will continue to relapse.

For 5 years we flew back and forth every few weeks to see a top neuroblastoma team in NYC at Memorial Sloan Kettering, but recently sought out another opinion (after being told he had done all they currently had to offer) with another neuroblastoma expert in Grand Rapids, MI where Wes and I have been since 1/15/17 and will be until the end of February. This disease has effected all of us in many ways including our other two boys who have been in this cancer world since they were newborns, but Wes has been hit the hardest.

The list of side effects that he has experienced is lengthy and none of which should ever have to be experienced by a child. Some of his ongoing or continuous issues include chronic bowel issues, anxiety, intermittent neuropathy, intermittent nausea, unexplained blurred vision, rapid weight loss, compromised immune system, and chronic but intense muscle spasms of the pelvic floor. Unfortunately it is likely we haven’t seen the true damage caused by his treatment just yet. He currently has a 504 plan with his school, Seaford Elementary and they have been wonderful, though it is a huge challenge to try to keep up with schooling while he is out so often. This journey has proven to be one that is a roller coaster of emotions and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. However, it is also bittersweet, because it has reminded me how precious life is and to always cherish the small things.
Wes Pak- Neuroblastoma Fighter

Pay family-- we are cheering for you!! Thank you for sharing your story so that more people can understand how horrible childhood cancer really is! Wes, kick cancer's butt!!

Wes's quilt is in the mail to him today, but there will be 42 kids diagnosed with childhood cancers today. Please help us send quilts to those kids, too, by making a donation! Your financial generosity helps us spread the word about Quilts for Cure and the prevalence of childhood cancer and helps us send quilts to children across the country! 

Gold forever,

HollyAnne

Friday Fighters

Friday Fighter: Gayle Katzenback, Age 20

Gayle Katzenback, Swings Sarcoma Warrior

Good morning, Advocates and Warriors!

I know it's not actually Friday, but this story just can't wait because I need your help! 

Almost two years ago, an 18 year old Gayle was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma. Her doctors were hopeful about her prognosis at the time, but after a year of typical cancer treatments, her cancer stopped responding and spread throughout her body. In December 2016, Gayle's doctors said she had stage 4 cancer, that there was nothing more that they could do, and she had six months to live. Gayle's family decided to look for other treatment options and have since been pursuing alternative methods in Arizona. NINE months later, Gayle is still fighting and her body has showed response to the treatment. Hooray! 

However, Gayle still has a long road full of treatments and struggles ahead of her. That means that she needs a quilt! Even more, she has two friends who are in treatment with her: 

Christine Danielle
18 years old - Fighting her 3rd Recurrence for Ewing's Sarcoma

Jazmin Ayotte (Soon to be Henson) 
20 yrs old - Stage 4 ACC

I'd like to send 3 #OperationSmiley quilts to Arizona for Gayle, Christine, and Jazmin. 

This is where I need your help.

The quilts are ready to go, but we need about $50 to cover shipping fees.

Please give $5 or $10 to help!

There is also a fourth friend being treated with these young ladies: Christie-- a wife and a mama of three littles with Stage 4 throat cancer. While QFC focuses on pediatric cancer patients, if you would like to send Christie a quilt (or quilts for her kiddos to comfort them as their mama fights), I would LOVE to connect you with her!!

Thank you all SO MUCH!

Go Gold,

HollyAnne