Breast Cancer Healing Quilt

By Diane Harris, QM Associate Editor dhheadshot Breast Cancer Healing Quilt

A quilting friend of mine learned recently that she has breast cancer. She is well loved by the quilting community and so of course we’re making her a healing quilt. One person rallied the troops and sent out a simple pattern as a starting point. Another person will join the blocks together and someone else will quilt it.

bra1 Breast Cancer Healing Quilt
This is the pattern that came by email. When the Man of the House saw it on my desk, he wondered what it was, and so I explained. His response surprised me. He said, “Does she really need to be reminded that she has breast cancer?”

I chose not to dive into it at that moment, but it made me pensive. As I’ve mulled it over, these were some of my conclusions.

• It’s not reminding her she has breast cancer—because I’m quite certain that it’s already on her mind, all the time.
• It will be a reminder that dozens of female friends “get it” and are supporting and loving her though it all, whatever that ends up being.
• Women feel differently about breast cancer than men do. I can’t explain it exactly, but I feel strongly that this is true.
• I think the quilt will make her smile, and I suspect that humor may boost healing. I hope so.

bra2 Breast Cancer Healing Quilt

This is the block I made for my friend who has breast cancer.

This is the block I’ll mail off today. I was short on time so I kept it simple, but I think my message comes through. I hope and pray for all kinds of good things for my friend, who is a woman of faith, but is going to take a journey she didn’t choose.

I wonder what you think. Have you had breast cancer? How would a quilt of bras from friends have made you feel? Do you think it’s a supportive (ha) idea? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

And because of all this, I had a mammogram this week. I hope you’ll get yours this year, too. It’s important:

bra3 Breast Cancer Healing Quilt

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email:
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14 Responses to Breast Cancer Healing Quilt

  1. Jacquelynn Hissem says:

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer and am scheduled for surgery in 5 days. A woman that I met online and purchase quilts from her, made me a breast cancer quilt at no charge. She used Loralie “On the Mend” panel on one side and a pieced star on the other side. I cherish this quilt. I have taken it to every appointment (for luck) and admire it each and every day, turning it over to enjoy each side. I have a wonderful attitude and know I will be fine. I am wrapped in love with my blanket from a woman I have never met. She survived breast cancer 8 years ago and supports me 100 percent.
    Everyone looks at issues differently and I will shout that I have breast cancer and I will beat it. I have a wonderful team of doctors, I just have to go through the treatment. We all have to deal with breast cancer in our own way. We do not want to judge how someone gets through their treatment.

  2. Diane, I just received a quilt with bras from your pattern and it is wonderful.
    A bra is simply a bra. I had one goal when cancer hit and that was to not let it get me down and to keep being happy. I am not a fan of pink but it has raised a lot of money to help fight breast cancer and that is wonderful. I plan to do the walk next year when I am past the radiation etc. You either choose to be a victim or to remember that God made you a woman and no disease can take that away from you or anyone. My friend had her breasts both removed and went on with a light prosthetic bra and she never ever complained ever. Cancer would love to get us down and you can choose to be happy and have fun and that bra quilt is great fun.

    • Diane Harris says:

      Mary Lou, what a treasure to find your comment here. Thank you so much for chiming in. This whole conversation has been an eye-opener, hasn’t it? It reminds me that what everyone needs most is grace because we all think and feel differently about things, and that’s okay. I’m so happy that you’re doing well, taking time to recover, and feeling loved by family and friends. I wish you all the best and a speedy return to good health, my friend and creative champion!

  3. Jan LaBeause says:

    I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and have many friends who are both survivors and/or fighting it at this time. Personally, I think that anything friends and family can do to help you cope with the diagnosis, treatment and outcome are a blessing. I have made “chemo quilts” for friends who have used them throughout their treatments. One sweet friend is currently in hospice care and my quilt is always the top one on her bed. I gave it to her as a reminder, not of her cancer but of how much I care about her and that she is wrapped in my hug no matter where she is. If one of my quilty friends should want to support me and the fight I know is coming, I would be honored to have a bra quilt, a pink ribbon quilt or any quilted “hug”. Your friend is lucky to have such dear friends :)

    • Diane Harris says:

      Hi Jan,
      I remember you from the Block Party! I’m sorry to hear of your diagnosis but rest assured that you will be in our thoughts and prayers. I wish you all the best and I will be pulling for you all the way. Hugs to you, special quilter and friend!!!

  4. Dot says:

    I’ve had breast cancer, and have survived many years. I agree with those who would not want a bra quilt, nor anything pink. I did not want to be defined by the cancer, but wanted to know that I was loved, and that I was still the same ME. We are so much more than cancer patients. As Deb said, I’d rather have a pretty quilt that I could use for years.

    Using the bra design on a handmade card might be appropriate. Something temporary.

  5. Keri Lyn says:

    I really appreciate the insights that were shared. Diane, the bra quilt demonstrates how much you all care about your friend and I’m sure she will appreciate the intent whether she keeps it forever or not. I have been considering a quilt with a survivor theme for a friend fighting leukemia. After reading the comments, I think I will go back to my original project. I will make the quilt I planned before we knew she was sick because I love her and not one which focuses on her struggles.

  6. Missy says:

    I don’t want a reminder of breast cancer. I want it to be gone. I want my quilting friends to show up for me when I need them as I would do for them. Needle biopsies and surgery need no ‘pink’ reminder…cancer is not cute.

  7. Debbie Gallett says:

    My husband lost his first wife to breast cancer and I have to tell you he hates the pink ribbon campaign and all the stuff that goes with it. If someone had given his wife something like that he would have burned it.

  8. Bev Andersen says:

    I am a survivor of breast cancer as is my daughter. I made my own quilt while undergoing the entire process from the start right to the end of treatment. I asked those that were around me, to draw their hand on paper and I took it from there. I fused fabric hands to the block with their name on it. I cannot abide the sight of that quilt! It reminds me of the entire year of ups and downs, highs and lows. My daughter was given a quilt and she ended up giving it to her dog to sleep on. She couldn’t stand the sight of it either. This is the way we felt about it, others will think it is wonderful. It is up to each individual. I honestly think people should be asked if they would want them.

  9. Well i have to say as a 9 year survivor of breast fungus…lol…………I LOVE PINK……..Its my flag my banner…….what ever………I found pink bra fabric and i was so all over it……I make something showing my breast cancer colors i also make one for my daughter…..I laughed i cried but I didn’t let it get me…….I joked about being bald because its the fastest shower time i had….I also joked that i needed a V-8 because i was now lop sided….But in my book laughter is better then pity party….Pity parties dont heal they dont bring happiness into your body………….So yaaaaaaaaaaa GO PINK……..

  10. Celeste says:

    I have had breast cancer, and I agree with Sue and Deb’s replies. No bra quilt, no pink ribbon anything, no reminders that the cancer took up months of my life. I’m very grateful there are drugs to deal with it and for me it’s gone & I’m done with it. Your friend will certainly appreciate the efforts of her friends. I wish her a full recovery and a return to all things quilty!

  11. Sue says:

    I have had breast cancer, and although I would love the gesture, I wouldn’t want a quilt that blatantly is about breast cancer. I wouldn’t want a bra quilt, or a pink ribbon quilt. My life is so much more than just cancer. It is my experience that while going through treatment, and for quite while afterward, it’s all you can think about. You don’t want one more reminder. That being said, it is great that you are doing this.

  12. Deb says:

    No, I’ve not had breast cancer (thank the Lord!), and I think it’s a wonderful gesture to make a comfortable, cozy, loving quilt for your friend with cancer. And I’m sure she will be so touched that friends came together to make it for her. I do think that I would go along with your husband because thinking of myself I would love a quilt that I could comfortably display and use, whereas I would not want to display a bra quilt. Just my preference. I wish your friend the best and pray that she recovers.

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