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Jeanie Velarde was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2008. She turned to her hobby of quilting to help her get through this challenging time.
“Quilting is sort of a healing thing,” said Velarde. “When I had cancer, I had no control over anything. I woke up at 3 a.m. one morning and I thought rather than keep worrying I thought I would make a quilt instead. Making the quilt was calming and it was something I could control.”
Lee Gray, a nurse navigator at the Methodist Breast Center, supported Velarde through her cancer treatment and helped coordinate appointments and consultations.
“When I saw the quilt I was just amazed,” said Gray. “It was dynamic; it was beautiful; it was such a message of hope and comfort.”
The quilt Velarde created is rich in texture and color. It starts with bright yellow happy colors that darken as she learns her diagnosis and goes through treatment and then as you move through her story of quilted squares, hope and survival reappear as do the lighter colors and happy yellow sunshine in the final square marking her survival.
Velarde dreamed about the quilt she would create and after waking up, she immediately drew the squares out so she would not forget what they looked like. “Something I find really interesting is that I made the quilt before I finished radiation and the quilt showed my cancer was cured,” said Velarde.
While making the quilt Velarde said she felt like she was going to survive; that she was going to be o.k. Her quilt shows that belief with the sun shining over one side of the breast in the first square and then over the other side of the breast in the final square.
This spring, Velarde received a clean bill of health. She is cancer free. “Every single person at Methodist that I came into contact with throughout my care was an angel,” she said.
Her journey with cancer is over and her need for the quilt has been fulfilled. Remembering the fear of hearing those words “you have cancer,” she decided to donate her quilt to the Methodist Breast Center, hoping that it will help calm others’ fears and remind men and women that you can beat cancer.
Velarde now has a strong message for other women, “Get your mammogram. It’s not fun. It’s not going to kill you, but if you don’t have one, what it could reveal could kill you.”
Learn more about the Methodist Breast Center.