Tuesday Crafters Add Care to Cancer Treatment at AMC

There is little good to say about cancer, but women receiving treatment for breast cancer at Adventist Medical Center (AMC) now have something positive, thanks to the Tuesday Crafters, a small group of friends who meet weekly to share coffee and conversation while creating crafts. Recently, the Tuesday Crafters were asked to make gowns for breast cancer patients. The ladies took on the challenge and began sewing garments for the Portland-based medical center.

The brightly colored gowns are made with 100 percent cotton fabric chosen by Kim Earp, radiation oncology chief therapist, and Mary LaFore, a staff technician. The gowns—in shades of bright pink and yellow floral or swirling green, blue and gold—are sewn in a kimono style that ties at the waist with Velcro closures at the chest for added coverage. Earp says "women who come for treatment at AMC can choose a gown to use over the course of their treatment."

"When you are diagnosed with cancer, you don't have many choices. Choices allow patients to feel empowered. They appreciate choosing appointment times, or which color robe to wear," says Earp, adding, "the garments are so well made, they can pass for a nice top instead of a hospital gown."

Bob Breckenbridge, AMC oncology staff therapist, says when two women are in the waiting room wearing similar gowns, there is an automatic connection between them. Patients have remarked they like wearing the gowns because of the color and comfort.

Not only comfortable, the gowns make it possible for patients to open only the side where they are receiving treatment. And the fabric softens over time, which is a benefit for women dealing with skin irritation from treatment. Yet, while the fabric softens, it stays opaque unlike traditional hospital gowns that can become semi-translucent over time.

Lois Hazelwood, a Tuesday Crafters member, says the group shared the work of making gowns. One lady would cut, one would pin, and one would sew. Hazelwood says sewing the gowns "gives us something positive to do, and a positive outlook. We love to help people." And the Tuesday Crafters pray over each gown they sew.

Lois' daughter, Julie Taylor, AMC mammography technician, asked her mother if the Tuesday Crafters could make the gowns. This was not the first time she asked her mother to sew for the hospital. Hazelwood is also part of a quilting group called Sew In Love. She and other Tuesday Crafters participate in both groups, meeting with the Sew In Love ladies every Monday. Together, they have made five quilts for AMC's oncology department.

Quilts made by the ladies of Sew In Love are given to oncology patients who are not doing well and may be suffering side effects of treatment, such as chills. Some quilts are given to patients admitted into hospice. The quilts have patchwork tops sewn with multi-colored squares of fabric. Each quilt has a small tag sewn on it that reads "made just for you."

To learn more about the happenings at AMC, visit www.adventisthealthnw.com.

February 01, 2008 / Adventist Health