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"You have breast cancer.”


One in eight women in the U.S. will hear those four words at some time in their lives. In January 2012, I was one of them. I’d had a clean mamogram in June 2011, but discovered a lump as I turned over in bed one November night. A sonogram and biopsy later, I was diagnosed with Grade 2 invasive breast cancer. I had a mastectomy of my right breast in February 2012, followed by chemotherapy from March to June 2010. I went through 6 rounds of chemo, comprising of a combination of Taxotere and Cytoxan. I lost my hair and my appetite, I was exhausted all the time, and I was too ill to work. Those are the facts, but they don’t begin to describe the emotional journey of my diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.


I coped, like so many other women, through the support of family and friends, by taking the experience one day at a time, and by making quilts. Why make quilts?


Quilt making gave me the opportunity to express how I felt about this intense and difficult experience. I wrote on my quilts, but the visual image was also important.


Moreover, one of my doctors pointed out that quilt making was good for me. An absorbing creative activity distracted me from feeling unwell, as well as from my fears and worries. Making a quilt helped me focus on the present, and gave me something interesting and positive to think about. So, I  think of working with fabric as contributing to my health and healing.


I hope that my breast cancer quilt story will help support the many women who have been, or who are currently going through this challenging process.

You can buy a book of these quilts from Amazon: "Breast Cancer Quilts" by Judy Elsley

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