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.