Monday, November 22, 2010


Not long ago, I attended a lecture by Kristin Armstrong. Kristin is a motivational speaker, an author and the ex-wife of Lance Armstrong. My husband and I, being bike riders, had followed Lance's life especially since his diagnosis of advanced testicular cancer came at about the same time as my stage IV diagnosis. In fact, we both were on the same chemotherapy.

In her talk, Kristin brought up how important it is to develop a strong group of friends. Not only was it important to your regular well-being, but in times of great difficulty, you would need to lean on them and they would support you. I felt a little sad about this as I am about 10 years Kristin's senior. I also knew that while it was easy for me to make friends when my daughter was in elementary school, moving down to Ohio when she was in junior high made things a lot more difficult. I wondered about how I would approach this new diagnosis knowing that the unbelievable amount of help I got in my second diagnosis in 1998 was so much more than it was in 1994 when I had only recently left work and hadn't developed much of a support system outside of my workplace....and family was far away.

I thought of this comfort quilt I made for Teresa Rorhbach to give to her neighbor who was undergoing chemo. What a great gift!

It wasn't long after I was thinking about that, and pulling out my healing quilt which was made for me in 1998 to take down to my treatments in Kettering, when this knitted prayer shawl came in the mail. I was dumbfounded. While I haven't been able to make many connections with the church here, in fact for the most part I find it pretty cold, this prayer shawl came from St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Meriden, Connecticut. I know the ladies who work with the prayer shawl ministry there, but never in a million years would I have thought that they would send a shawl that they had made with love and prayed over and sent down here more than five years after I left Meriden. I was dumbfounded.

Getting chemotherapy often makes you cold because sometimes the drugs are refrigerated, but even if they aren't room temperature drugs are colder than your body temperature. In addition, in my case, I usually wear turtlenecks and sweaters, and I can't wear those for treatment as they need to be able to access my port. So, having a blanket or something is very nice.

This particular quilt was made for me by a bunch of my quilting buddiesin Meriden, spearheaded by Lynne Grobsky in 1998. Each block was given to friends and family to be signed. This one was from my neighbors and it says "Question: Weed or flower?" as I was often called over to identify plant material.

Marina Mozzi made this poison dark frog, outlining the spiritual powers that frogs hold.

My brother, the small grain farmer in Montana, made this one. "From the Atlantic, wide open spaces, to the Rocky Mountains, " and shows a tractor pulling a seeder and is "signed" even by the dogs, as was the weed or flower block. (Dogs like me. :)).

The last block is one from my sister with two pink ribbons, either one for her and one for me, or for my two trips to the chemo bar at that point, I don't know...and with scripture on it.

All of these things are sort of miraculous and the thought and effort that went into them makes getting treatment a little easier to bear. I urge you to find a support group before you need them...and work to support others. The comfort or healing quilts DO make a difference....even if only to fill us with wonder.

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