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.
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.
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!)