Today I want to share with you a little bit about Derek Cantor’s short, extremely difficult fight with Rhabydosarcoma. I want to give you a head’s up, though, that this muscular cancer is difficult to view in its later stages. I want to show you the heartbreaking pictures of Derek’s fight because it is important that we understand the pain and gravity of his cancer, but please use discretion– especially if your own children are nearby.
I learned about Derek’s story a couple of weeks ago and asked Board Secretary Vicki to finish a quilt for him. We agreed that the quilt should be larger than baby sized because we knew it was likely that little Derek’s battle would end before his quilt arrived. In this instance, we hope that this quilt, which heads their way tomorrow, will bring comfort to his parents as they grieve their little boy.
Derek Cantor was born on November 17, 2016. When he was born, he already had rhabydosarcoma tumors on his chin and neck. This muscular cancer is made of cells that should have developed into Derek’s skeletal muscles, but instead they became cancer. From birth, Derek endured aggressive treatments for several months before entering hospice care this spring. As his tumors progressed, they caused him extreme pain, even blistering his skin and making it painful to be held. Derek passed away in his sleep on April 23, 2017.
1) GIVE Donations to CURE Childhood Cancer help fund research to find more effective treatments for childhood cancers. In the Comments box of your gift, include this information: “For childhood cancer research in memory of Derek Cantor. #QuiltsforCure”
2) QUILT About 40 children will be diagnosed with cancer today, tomorrow, and the next day… If you are a quilter, please make a simple, heartfelt gift of comfort for one or more of these kids. You can learn more on our Donate Now page.
3) SHARE Spread the word about Quilts for Cure so that we can honor more kids, distribute more quilts, and make a bigger impact fighting against childhood cancer!
Today I’d like to introduce you to the Quilts for Cure Board of Directors! First, though, a quick update: Azalia received her quilt! Thank you so much for responding to the call to action, Mina! Azalia is in the hospital now for her fourth round of chemo, and she has a treasure of a quilt on her bed keeping her warm.
Now, more business-y things: The Board of Directors met for the first time last week, voted to incorporate Quilts for Cure, approved the Bylaws, and the 501(c)(3) paperwork has been filed at last! If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to introduce us each to you. This information is also available on the “Our Team” page of the website.
HollyAnne Knight (me), President and Chair of the Board.
HollyAnne Knight is the creative visionary behind the E Pluribus Unum Project and Quilts for Cure. As an artist, she has worked with many mediums, from watercolors to oil paints to wool and now fabric. She believes that all of her creative experiences influence her quilting, giving her a unique and ever-developing approach and style. Her work has been displayed at both the City of Duluth’s City Hall and at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. She is a mother of two, teacher, and entrepreneur, which are key to the heart and operations of this project. In addition to creating the E Pluribus Unum Quilts, HollyAnne serves as social media manager, content writer, primary networker, and quilting instructor. She is excited to use all of her skills to bring “more love and less fear” (Claire Brewster) to the the children and families fighting pediatric cancer and to engage other creatives in that mission as well.
Andi learned to sew in 2008, after she had brain surgery and was stuck at home by herself for two months. She took a beginner class, and off she went! Turns out garment sewing is not her skill set, but once she found out she was pregnant shortly after, making her first quilt for the nursery lit a fire in her that she had never known. For many years, quilting for others provided an extra income for her family while she homeschooled her son, Aaron, who is now 7. The Barneys still homeschool, and quilting is just a part of everyday life for them.
In 2009, she was a founding member and founding President of the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild, and served on the board for 4 years. She is the immediate Past President of the East Cobb Quilters’ Guild, Georgia’s largest guild, and previous 1st Vice President, Publicity Chair, Quilt Show Publicity Chair, and current Quilt Show Entry Chair.
In 2015, her dear friend Brie Klug bought Red Hen Fabrics, and they became co-owners of the quilt shop. She is also the owner and certified master technician of Atlanta NW Sewing Machine Service, which is located inside of Red Hen Fabrics. In addition, Andi and Brie have a pattern and pre-fused, laser cut applique company called M.F.E.O. (Made For Each Other) that they launched earlier this year, and will be taking to market in Spring 2018. Because they don’t like to sit still, Andi and her husband also have a laser engraving and sublimation company, Lasting Impressions, that they have expanded this year. All these aspects of quilting have given her many opportunities to travel and do guild lectures and workshops, work with many organizations, and contribute to community service.
Vicki has spent over 20 years as a nurse. She has worked with many clients over the years, helping them cope with illness and the unintended consequences of being ill. Cancer affects not only the person who is diagnosed but also the family and community of people whose lives are touched by it. In addition, quilting has been a life long passion of Vicki’s. She started out by making simple square quilts with her mother from polyester fabric and tying them with yarn. Vicki continues to quilt every day and believes quilting is a way to give a symbolic hug to someone. A quilt is a physical representation of love and caring. Teaching and making quilts is a way that Vicki enjoys sharing with others and to give hope to those touched by pediatric cancer. She wants the cycle of caring and giving to continue. It is truly greater to give than receive…. and to be part of something much larger than ourselves.
Andi and Vicki are two of my BQFs (best quilty friends), and I am so delighted that they are on our board. Quilts for Cure is in wise, generous, and enthusiastic hands with these lovely women on board. Thank you, Andi and Vicki!!
1) Sign up for our newsletter. Starting sometime in May, it will be the way I communicate the most regular updates about fundraising, the number of quilts we have distributed, etc.
2) Your Story Does your child have cancer? We would love to share your story on Friday Fighters and find a quilter to send a quilt to your family. Please email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org
3) SHARE Please share our website, blog posts, and social media information on your website, blog post, and media information. The success of Quilts for Cure will be in many, many people coming together as a network of advocates for our children. In addition to www.quiltsforcure.org, you can find us on @quiltsforcure on Facebook and Instagram.
I knew that Quilts for Cure would someday exist for about two years before I knew exactly what it would be or when it would get started. In February, we launched with #OperationSmiley in memory of the beautiful Kylie Myers. This week, we held our first board meeting and filed the 501(c)(3) paperwork!
In that two year interim between Kylie’s passing and launching Quilts for Cure, I continued to learn about childhood cancer and the beautiful families it devastates. Today’s fighter, Kate Amato, was one of the fights I followed. I cheered for Kate, and now I continue cheering for her family.
Kate was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive soft tissue cancer, in 2014. She fought hard for two years, winning the hearts of over 20,000 people on her Facebook page. Her smile, her humor, and her generosity are captivating. On November 30, 2016, we all joined her family’s grief as Kate’s battle ended.
Today, Kate’s family continues to fight. Her younger sister Caroline is an outspoken sibling advocate with TheTruth365. Kate’s family is also in the midst of an important Kickstarter Campaign called Kate’s Crusade. Kate’s Crusade is a proposed video game for kids fighting cancer. Studies show that visualization can affect reality, so the premise of this game is that kids can take ownership of their cancer fight, picture their treatments working, and maybe even impact their real-life battle.
1) COMMENT: Leave a note of encouragement for the Amato family as they continue to fight against childhood cancer in Kate’s memory.
2) GIVE Pledge $10 to Kate’s Crusade or give $10 to CURE Childhood Cancer in Kate’s honor. When you give, be sure to include this information: “In honor of Amazing Kate Amato #quiltsforcure.”
3) QUILT We have hospital partners in several states who are ready to receive quilts for their patients. In addition, we often receive quilt requests from individual families, and we pair them with a quilter. Get on board by visiting our Give a Quilt page or emailing hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org
I met a lovely young lady on Instagram yesterday by the name of Azalia Taylor, and I had to introduce her to y’all right away! Azalia is 13 years old, she lives in Puerto Rico, and she is fighting for her life against an Endodermal Sinus Tumor. This type of cancer is most common in boys under three, so for it to appear in a tween girl is very unusual. Azalia was diagnosed in December 2016 and had a softball size tumor removed. Now, she is undergoing chemotherapy. Azalia is passionate about clean eating and her personal relationship with God. She credits both for her great joy and hopeful outlook as she continues treatment.
When Azalia commented on one of the Quilts for Cure Instagram photos yesterday (shown above), she said something so beautiful:
“I want to learn how to make quilts! They are so cool and individual and unique… none are the same. Just like every cancer is not the same for everyone!”
I also asked her to write about her experience having cancer so that I could share it with y’all:
“I just turned 13, but I was diagnosed at 12. My live was cool but getting a cancer diagnosis has changed everything forever! It has invaded my life, and I see it as an unwanted intruder. I’m a tween! i would have never guessed in a million years that I would be diagnosed with cancer. yet, here I am, and although my world is different now, I will NOT let it take away my trust and love for my Heavenly Father, or my desires and hopes, or my joy and happiness!! It has made me more aware of who I am– a cancer warrior, and that comes from within me. I will NOT be discouraged!! So, I want others to know that cancer can change things, but it doesn’t define who I am!”
You are a BEAUTIFUL ROCKSTAR, Azalia! I’m following Azalia on Instagram, and I’ll keep y’all updated as she kicks cancer’s butt!
1) COMMENT Either here or on Azalia’s Instagram, @azaliacancerwarrior, please leave a message of encouragement for her and her mama, Mar-Lee.
2) QUILT Who would like to make Azalia a quilt of her very own? Email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org!
3) CONNECT Do you know a quilter in Puerto Rico who could help Azalia realize her dream of learning to quilt? Email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org
Finally, for all of you also celebrating this weekend, Happy Easter! He is Risen!
Remember the little girl I mentioned last week who is getting the quilt with all the different colored hearts? I’d like to introduce you to 4 year old Katie Green who is fighting hard against Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Katie is a miracle baby, born 17 years after her older sister. She’s a happy kiddo who loves to play with the other kids in her extended family. She loves blue and purple, Paw Patrol, and dinosaurs! Katie was diagnosed last summer on June 21, 2016. While her prognosis is good, cancer is still a huge battle.
But let me invite Katie’s mama, Susan, to tell you a bit more about her precious baby’s story:
“She was born with three heart defects and had to be started on digoxin and Lasix at only three weeks old. She was unable to nurse and had to be on double strength formula just to get her enough calories. While they were waiting for her to get strong enough for heart surgery, her heart started to heal itself. Her cardiologist was amazed. Her ASD and pulmonary artery resolved themselves as she grew. She still has a VSD but it has shrunk considerably and in May of 2016 the cardiologist declared she would not need heart surgery.
In June of 2016 she was diagnosed with leukemia. With intensive chemo she went on to remission in Aug 2016. She continued treatment and in Jan 2017 she started maintenance chemo which will continue thru Sept 2018. We are very hopeful that she will overcome this too.”
Katie, we are so thankful that you have a good prognosis! Your quilt will be ready soon, sweet girl!
1) COMMENT: Leave a message of encouragement for Katie and her family. You can follow Katie’s journey on Facebook at Katie’s Krusade.
2) GIVE: Make a donation to CURE Childhood Cancer in Katie’s honor. Under the notes option on the donation page paste this message: “In Honor of Katie Green. #QuiltsforCure”
3) QUILT: 44 children in the US will be diagnosed with cancer TODAY. Make a simple, heartfelt quilt for one of them this weekend.
Also, if you ever have questions about how to get involved or how to share you child’s story, just email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org