Hello again, Quilty Friends!
I have a story to tell you, but first let's take a few moments to look at some sobering facts: 46 children in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer today. The National Cancer Institute only gives about 4% of their annual funding toward researching childhood cancers, and as a result there has been almost no progress on treatment options since the 1980s. At least 3 children will DIE today because of the lack of new drugs and therapies. Some cancers, like the brain cancer DIPG have a 0% survival rate. Children diagnosed with DIPG are sent home on hospice for whatever time they have left. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children, and even those who survive are left with lifelong complications and health risks—complications and risks that often claim their lives sooner rather than later.
Two and a half years ago, a beautiful girl named Kylie Myers died from bone cancer. She was 12 years old, and she was one of the most beautiful people I’d ever had the privilege to know. Three years before that, her best friend Bailey Moody had a rotationplasty amputation to survive a very similar bone cancer. Two girls in a small class of about 60 at their school. Cancer is more common than we realize. And its effects are so devastating that they are hard to look at straight on. Have you thought about that? When it comes to really hard things, sometimes the best we can do is kind of scooch up and give them the side-eye before backing away again. We “go gold” in September and donate a dollar at the grocery store, and then we try to forget that something as horrible as childhood cancer exists in our world.
I refuse to forget.
Kylie’s dying charge to her family was to kill cancer. I don’t have to be her flesh and blood to accept that challenge.
Bailey lived—but she lost her leg and her best friend. Those are devastating losses nonetheless.
I taped Kylie’s picture above my ironing board. I make myself look the reality of cancer full in the face every day.
Somedays I’m not so good at it.
But I try my hardest—for Kylie, for Bailey, for their mamas, daddies, siblings, and for a bunch of other kiddos and families who have captured my heart. Trucker. Abri. Kate. Grant. Katharine. Gayle. And more… Too many more. Too many.
I do my best at staring cancer in the face when I’m quilting. Like the very act of my own love and creativity can somehow beat back the evil of cancer. I’m not a scientist, but I wage my own war against cancer in my sewing room, a war that pushes back against the cold, the fear, the despair, the loneliness, the ugliness of cancer—quilt after quilt. Quilts for children to keep them warm while needles pump poison in the their veins—our pitiful attempts to rid their little bodies of a horrific disease. Quilts to hide under when the big world is so scary. Quilts to bring beauty, color, and cheer to yet another hospital room. Quilts with love in every fiber—love that I truly believe gets passed from me to these children and their families. Through quilting, I fight evil with love.
I know a lot of other quilters who fight evil with love, too, so I created Quilts for Cure so we can fight together. We aren’t hunting for a pharmaceutical cure—we leave that to Kylie’s Daddy (Mark Myers) and the AMAZING team at CURE Childhood Cancer. Our love and our quilts enter the fray to encourage children and families who are emotionally exhausted by the turmoil of cancer. We are cheerleaders. Our quilts tell a child and his or her family, “WE SEE YOU!” While so many people only give childhood cancer the side eye once a year during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we stare that devil in the face every damn day and say, “No! You do not belong here, and we are going to KILL YOU!” And our love and our courage gains a little ground in this war.
When I told him about Quilts for Cure, Kylie’s Daddy said that it is good, and it is important for the emotional encouragement of families in the fight. “When your child has cancer, you’re in the fight because you HAVE to be,” he told me. “We’re so tired from our own fight. We need people like [Quilts for Cure] who CHOOSE to be in the fight because you bring fresh energy and hope.”
What will you choose?
Will you CHOOSE to enter the fight?
Will you CHOOSE to stare childhood cancer in the face and fight back, rotary cutter in hand, with love, joy, and quilting?
Will you CHOOSE to use your hobby and passion to comfort a child who is fighting his or her life?
Fight with me. Fight with us. Together, we will KILL CANCER for Kylie and for every child so that they can live happy, healthy, long, cancer-free lives!
(Quilts for Cure is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. All donations are tax deductible)