Monday, December 28, 2009

A gift from my friends



Aren't these amazing? Well, the story behind is more amazing.
Some of my stitchy friends, 8 of them plus my daughter to be exact, went behind my back and did this project for me.
Why I am deserving of this wonderful gift still eludes me, but it is a true blessing. Even my daughter kept it secret since Oct. 2nd.
6 stitched angels on the quilt, plus a stitched piece in the center plus a pillow with another stitched angel. All in the most beautiful shades of purple and pink.
Mary, Janet, Tara, Carrie, Ethel, Moma Judy, Georgena & Penny had a part in making the beautiful quilt and pillow. My daughter had the job of keeping it quiet from me. Mary did the most WONDERFUL quilting on the quilt. All in all it is spectacular!
Do you know they even set up a special Yahoo group for it? Stitching for Wooleybooger!
I have been very tearful over this gift. It is quite possibly the best gift I have ever received. I know it is the most beautiful one. I can't wait to show it off to my Relay friends and friends at work.
There are not enough words to say thank you. I haven't had a chance to read all the posts on the Yahoo group. I have my grandkids here and they are demanding that I not spend as much time as I want to look at it all. Makes for a difficult situation: pay attention to grandkids or read the posts! LOL.
I have been so blessed with my friendship with all of you. I wish you all were here to share in my joy! But via the net, maybe you can know that you have truly touched my heart. If you are judged by the friends you have, then I will be judged as a very fortunate person, a person who was and is loved very much.
Blessings to all of you! And thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Donna

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you! You are such a blessing to so many, esp. me!
My dear sweet husband surprised me early with a floor stand Ott light! Now I can work on these projects at night and on cloudy days. Stitching on 28 count requires good light, as you all know and I could never seem to get enough light even with a regular lamp.
I want to take a moment to say thank you to my husband. While it is all of you who help stitch for this project, it is my husband who supports me with his love and patience.
He oohs and ahs at all the goodies that come through my mail. He watches me stitch and applauds me when I finish a project. And he bought me this light just to make me happy.
My dear husband also listens to me when I tell him about the patients we are helping. He is also there when there are losses.
This past year when we lost sweet MaKenzie, it broke his big heart. But he went with me to the family time, walked up with me to the little casket and cried with me. I honestly don't think I could have done that without him.
James, I love you so much. I need you so much and you are such a blessing to me. These past 5 years have been wonderful and I look forward to the next 5 years.
I pray each of you have all you want and need for this Christmas! I love you all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Finally another square finished


I stitched this square for the quilt. It was made in honor of a friend of mine, Paula, who battled breast cancer and has won! She had a relatively new procedure and is completely clear! Woo hoo!
She and her husband Donald live in a small town close by us and are the coordinators for our blood drive there. They both work so hard and are so appreciated. They were even our Circle of Life winners for last year.
I have had several squares turned in now. I will be ordering the fabric to go with the squares soon and will send it all off to the quilter so she can start on it!
Thank you all so much! 2010 is going to be a busy year. I have 3 Relay For Life relays and we are doing a quilt a piece for two of them and the pillows for the other one. So I will need more stitchers to do a few more squares. When I get it figured out what is needed I will leave a post!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lots and lots of new stuff

This past week my mailbox has had lots of goodies in it for me!
I received two stitched quilt squares.
This one was made by Linda:

I photographed it on an angle, so it looks a little crooked, but it is very beautiful in real life.
Linda stitched this in honor of her mother, Isabella (isn't that a beautiful name?). Isabella was a very crafty woman and loved to sew, esp. to quilt. Linda loves to cross stitch so she thought that this was a great way to honor her mother, who died Nov. 2, 2008 from pancreatic cancer. I think it is a great way also!
This square was made by Zerelda:

Zerelda stitched this in honor of Mac Parker, who died in 2006 of pancreatic cancer. Mac loved his family and his dogs with all his heart and is missed by many.
I also received 4 pillows made by Jeanine. She is the tumor register person at a major hospital in Texas. You have seen her beautiful ornaments and her quilt square. Now she has these wonderful pillows. Jeanine sees cancer at it's worst everyday. She says this gives her something to stitch for!



She also made this biscornu pillow. The stitching on both sides is just fabulous!:


I also received these ornaments from Olga. While the tree has already been raffled off, these will be great silent auction items for the team captains' meetings next year. Several people wanted an ornament, but didn't necessarily want the whole tree!

Thanks to all who have contributed! It makes my day, my week, my year to see how many people care so much for people they don't know.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A pillow or two

Back when we were collecting ornaments for the tree, several folks weren't confident in their finishing techniques and asked me to finish them for them.
Terry sent me several of these. Two were the Lizzie Kate, Peace, Love and a Cure pieces. I instantly knew these would make great pillows rather than ornaments and after talking to Terry and getting her permission this is what I did.
I have a wonderful pillow maker, Bev, whose name is kyla1dog on Ebay. She has made several pillows for me and she is top notch. I don't sew, and she has been a lifesaver many times.
So I sent the fabric that Terry included and the two stitched pieces. Bev made them into pillows.
Here is a picture of one of them.

I am going to sell raffle tickets for the pillow. I think it will do well.
Terry also sent me a stitched "Never ending cup of hope for a cure" (pattern is on the right side of my blog). I am going to make a box that will hold tea bags and put her stitched piece on the top of that. We will auction this off at one of the team captain meetings and I am willing to bet we can get about $20 or $25 for it. You would be surprised at how much you get off of the silent auctions at team captains meetings.
Thank you too all. We are stitching for a cure!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A quilt square from a friend


Jeanine, whom you may remember made many of the ornaments for the RFL Christmas tree, graciously agreed to make a quilt square.
She did the green one, which represents kidney cancer. My picture doesn't do the color justice. It is more vivid in real life.
I lost a dear friend, Charlie, to kidney cancer. I spoke about Charlie and kidney cancer in a previous post. To this day, I see the green ribbon and I instantly think of him. He was such a kind man and so giving.
Sometimes I worry that I have become obsessed with this project. Obsessed with helping to find a cure. Am I talking about the project too much? Am I thinking about the various RFLs and how much money we can raise for cancer patients?
The answer is yes. But then I think of Charlie, and of MaKenzie and Justin and Kim and Logan and on and on. I don't want to lose another person in my life to this disease.
And so I am obsessed. But in a good way.
Thank you so much Jeanine for your beautiful square. This quilt is going to be stunning and will raise lots of money.
And thank you to all of you out there, who are stitching for a cure or simply reading and passing along what we are doing here. We are making a difference!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

1 down, 23 to go

I have finished a quilt block! Hooray! Mostly hooray because I have not been in much of a stitching mood here lately.
We are working on the quilt for the Killeen, TX Relay For Life. But just a little after that is the Waco, TX Relay For Life and we will need another quilt.
I haven't put that request out on the blog yet because I know stitchers are trying to finish up their Christmas stitching and I didn't want to ask too much right now.
But we are going to need another 11 squares in the ribbon colors. I have someone working on the middle square right now and I will be starting one of the smaller squares today. So hopefully over the next few weeks I can get several done myself.
Here is the teal square I finished. It was made in honor of one of my directors' mother who died of ovarian cancer.

Hopefully all you who are stitching on quilt blocks are not having too many visits from the frogs. I had a meeting with the queen frog and explained to her the rule that no frogs are allowed to visit a stitcher working on a charity project. She agreed, but had a twinkle in her eye, so who knows what that means. Let me know if I need to speak with her again!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Go Purple in November

November is pancreatic cancer awareness month. Purple is the color ribbon for pancreatic awareness.
I encourage you to go to the site below and check out ways you can help!
http://www.pancan.org/section_get_involved/pancan_awareness_month
Let's put an end to this terrible disease. Go purple this November!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Yahoo Group

Hello all! Our quilter for our new project, Halina, has a new Yahoo group. You might want to check it out and possibly consider joining the group.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/QuiltsForCancer
Right now she and I are the only members, but it will grow I sure. Halina has been a part of the Yahoo group, Quilts for Breast Cancer and has put together many of the quilts for them.
On this new group, we can chat and do updates on the quilt squares and it will be another way to get out the message about what we are doing!
Thanks to Halina and all of you for what you are doing to make a difference!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Update on Trees

With the new project up and running I realized I hadn't given an update on the trees. We have made $1100 so far with the trees. I think we will start seeing a little more money coming in closer to Thanksgiving when people really start thinking of Christmas.
It is quite a bit less than the $5000 I would have liked to have made off the trees but still think how far that money can go toward helping cancer patients. How much gas can it buy for the Road to Recovery, a program that helps cancer patients get to their treatments. How many wigs and cosmetics can it buy to help with the Look Good, Feel Better program? That helps cancer patients undergoing chemo and radiation to have licensed hairdressers and make up artists to show them how to look their best while dealing with the problems of chemo and radiation. How many cups of coffee will that buy for the support groups that ACS has to help folks while going through the fight of their life?
The answer too all of these questions is: More than they had before we started this project! And that my friends is a good answer.
We raffled off the small pink & white tree. The winner was a cancer survivor who is very active in cancer prevention in our area. She donated the tree to our local ACS office. So the tree not only made money for ACS, it will help bring a smile to those fighting the fight and those helping to fight the fight.
Thanks again to all. We are raffling off the big tree on Thanksgiving. I will let you know then our total numbers!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a quilter!

One of my worries when I decided to do this quilt was that I did not sew or quilt.
I felt I could find stitchers to make the squares but I wasn't 100% sure I could find a quilter that would be willing to take on this project.
Silly me, I don't know why I worried about this. As with everything we have accomplished, the saying "if you build it, they will come" has been true.
So I am happy to announce that we have a quilter. Halina Miller from my Yahoo group, Quilts for breast cancer, has graciously agreed to do the quilting for us! Whew! Isn't that just fantastic?
The last two squares have now been taken as of 4:45 pm CST on 11/04:
Pink DMC 601 & 603 For Breast Cancer (TAKEN BY PIKE ON 11/04)
Brown DMC 433 & 436 For Colon Cancer (TAKEN BY RIONA ON 11/04)
They are done on 28 count Lugana with DMC. I will provide the fabric and the thread.
Thanks again so much for everything and THANK YOU HALINA!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Update on Quilt Needs (updated again)

I have had a GREAT response to the need for quilt squares since Friday. Please read the post before this one for details!
Here are the squares that are left that need to be done. As of 9:45 pm CST on 11/02 we just need 2 more stitchers (I do have the other two listed below that still need stitchers for the pillows)
Pink DMC 601 & 603 For Breast Cancer (need one)
Green DMC 699 & 701 For Kidney Cancer (TAKEN ON 11/02 by Jeanine)
Brown DMC 433 & 436 For Colon Cancer
Lavender DMC 210 & 208 For General Cancer Awareness (BOTH TAKEN ON 11/02 by Carolyn)
We need 1 middle piece with the Gloria & Pat Design, "What Cancer Cannot Do". (TAKEN ON 11/02 by Janet)
I am also needing someone to stitch two more of the G&P WCCD pieces that will be made into throw pillows for the other 2 Relays in the spring.
The larger piece will be stitched on 28 count evenweave Cream Lugana and will have 2 shades of pink, 1 shade of purple, and 2 shades of green DMC (again, I will supply the DMC and the Lugana).
And if you are a quilter or know of a quilter that would like to put this 26x26 quilt together let me know.
As I mentioned below I will be supplying the fabric and thread for all squares. I need them in my hot little hands by Feb. 1 so please don't take a square if you don't think you can do it by then.
E-mail me at stitchingforacure@yahoo.com if you want a square and give me your mailing address.
And thanks to all!

Friday, October 30, 2009

New SFAC Project

Hello all! I know we just finished with the ornament project and we are still raffling off the tree.
But we have 3 more Relays this spring and we need fundraisers for them all. The trees were so successful and many of you have told me you would like to continue to be a part of our ongoing projects.
Our first project is a quilt. A small 26x26 hanging quilt with twelve 5 1/2 by 5 1/2 stitched squares and a middle piece that is mostly backstitched letters.
Here are the details:
Each small square will be stitched with two shades of DMC on 28 count evenweave cream Lugana (I will supply the DMC and the Lugana).
The larger piece will be stitched on 28 count evenweave Cream Lugana and will have 2 shades of pink, 1 shade of purple, and 2 shades of green DMC (again, I will supply the DMC and the Lugana).
I need them in my hot little hands by Feb. 1 in order to have them quilted together (still need a quilter since I don't sew. If anyone quilts and would like to take on this project, please e-mail me and I will give you details. All fabrics, threads, etc. will be provided). The Relay is the end of April and I need to have the quilt itself finished by mid March.
The pattern for this project is located on my right sidebar under quilt patterns. The small pattern is the Dragonfly Stitches Breast Cancer pattern (I resized it for printing). The larger middle piece is the "What Cancer Cannot Do" by Gloria & Pat.
Here are the color options:
Pink DMC 601 & 603 For Breast Cancer
We need two pink squares (ONE TAKEN ON 11/01 by Janet)
Still need a pink square! (TAKEN ON 11/02 by Cathy)
Yellow DMC 725 & 727 For Bladder Cancer (TAKEN ON 10/31 by Vicki)
Blue DMC 824 & 826 For Colorectal Cancer (TAKEN ON 11/01 by Marian)
Purple DMC 333 & 340 For Pancreatic, Testicular and Thyroid
We need two purple squares (BOTH TAKEN ON 10/31 by Zerelda & Linda)
Green DMC 699 & 701 For Kidney Cancer
Orange DMC 900 & 947 For Leukemia (TAKEN ON 11/02 by Sandra)
Brown DMC 433 & 436 For Colon Cancer
Lavendar DMC 210 & 208 For General Cancer Awareness
We need two lavendar squares
I don't mean to be so specific on colors and fabric, but since it is a quilt it needs to all "match".
We also have a teal square that is being done by another stitcher.
We need 1 middle piece with the Gloria & Pat Design, "What Cancer Cannot Do".
I am also needing someone to stitch two more of the G&P WCCD pieces that will be made into throw pillows for the other 2 Relays in the spring.
SO, ARE YOU UP FOR THE CHALLENGE? If so, please email me at stitchingforacure@yahoo.com
with your square/color choices. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail so I can send your fabric and thread.
Since there are so few squares and fabric is so high, only sign up if you are sure you can fulfill this.
And thank you again from the bottom of my heart. We are going to STITCH FOR A CURE and make lots of money for American Cancer Society Relay For Life!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Big, big celebration dance


Ok folks let's do a big, big celebration dance!
Are your ready? Drumroll please!


WE HAVE REACHED $1000.00 IN OUR FUNDRAISING FOR THE TREES! Combined donations, ticket sales and commitments put us at $1005.00 tonight!
And we couldn't have done it without you! We still have until Thanksgiving to sell tickets and get donations, so keep those prayers going up!
Until then, we are stitching for a cure!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A little angel goes to heaven


Some of you remember MaKenzie, the little unknown cancer patient I stitched the zebra print ornament for.
The little angel went to heaven this morning at 3:00am. Her little body just could not hold her spirit anymore and she is now playing with the angels.
A memorial service will be held on Monday and a funeral on Tuesday.
Please keep her Mother, brother and family and friends in your prayers, as well as the precious hospice workers that helped her these past months.
Here is a pic of her luminaria from Relay last Saturday.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Personal Thank You from Donna

video

The tree, Relay, and more

Last night was Relay For Life and the debut of the trees! I want to caution you this will be very picture heavy.
I tried to get as many different views of the tree so you could all see your ornaments. If you don't see your individual ornament, don't fret. It was there. It was just hard to get pics of all 150+ ornaments. Let's just say the tree was fuller than full.
With no further ado, here we go:




















I didn't raise as much money as I had hoped at Relay but we still have until Thanksgiving to sell these tickets and remember, I am pulling out all the stops!
Relay was AMAZING! If you wondered why we did this, I think this picture of some of the luminarias says it all:

And remember our little hero MaKenzie? Here are some lighted luminarias for her:


And one final picture after we moved the trees last night to our donor center where they will be on display:

Once again thank you all for your support. And this blog won't be going away. I will keep you updated on the final money raised as it comes in.
And, keep your eye out! I have THREE MORE RELAYS in the spring and there will be stitching opportunities for them.
All in all, EVERYONE who saw the trees were in awe. I had so much fun telling them about each and everyone of you. I told some of your stories, passed along messages of hope.
Thank you for giving so much hope to so many!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Today's the day!

It is 5:20am and today is Relay day. I am about to go back to bed to see if I can get a couple more hours in, but I doubt it.
My DD & grandsons have arrived. We have pulled the ornaments and will load up later today.
Please think of us throughout today. This will be when we see everything start to "pull together". Remember, we Relay to give hope!
Thank you again and don't forget to check back Sunday or Monday for the amazing pictures!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Just one more day until Relay

Well folks, it is really almost here. Tonight my family will be in from Houston to help me. Tomorrow (after taking Mom to the beautyshop of course!) we will load up and go to the track.
By about 2:00pm I will have both trees up and decorated. I can't wait. Please be prepared on Sunday and Monday for LOTS of pictures.
It has rained here for 3 weeks. Even as late as Tuesday it rained. But I am looking at the weather for this weekend and we should have sunny skies. Since a cold front came through yesterday so it will be quite chilly, but at least it will be dry!
Have you ever seen the Disney World tv ad? There are two kids giggling in bed. The dad tells them to go to sleep and they say they are too excited to sleep.
Well, I am too excited to sleep. The last few days have been followed by long nights.
But tomorrow is the day! Hooray! Let's raise a ton of money for cancer patients together. Are you ready to Relay?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just 2 more days & the chimpanzee check up

Just two more days before Relay. And I have 2 little reasons of my own to Relay for: My grandsons Trenton and Craig.
Did you know I am a cancer survivor? I am. 23 years now.
I had a non-melanoma skin cancer called a dermatofibrosarcoma. The doctors all thought it was a cyst and we let it go way longer than we should have. When the went to remove it in the doctor's office, they found out it was a 3 inch egg shaped tumor.
They still thought it probably was nothing and threw a few stitches in. But when it wouldn't heal after a week I went back to the doctor. That is when I found out it was a malignant cancer.
Another surgery to remove all traces and a couple of weeks recovery. And here I am today. Cancer free.
And here I am to let you know that not all malignant skin cancers are dark misshappened moles. This looked like a large pimple when it started and then just looked like a flesh colored knot on my lower back.
Have you ever seen chimpanzees checking each other for ticks? Well I call that the chimpanzee check up.
Only you aren't looking for ticks. You are looking for spots on your skin that don't look right.
Find someone that can do the chimpanzee check up with (your spouse, sibling, etc.)once a year. Do it head to toe, back to front. If they see something that doesn't look right, go to your doctor.
Let's all make out like monkeys and fight skin cancer together!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3 more days...

3 more days until Relay. Funny. Why you may ask?
Because yesterday I signed up to do 3 more Relays this next spring in 3 towns close by. Two of them are just a weekend apart.
So yes, there will be more stitching. I have thoughts on what the projects will be and will be throwing some thoughts out to you after this Relay.
At our Relay For Life meeting with the manager of those towns, I think anyone hearing me speak would think I worked for American Cancer Society rather than Carter BloodCare.
Sometimes, my passion for saving lives crosses over into other areas.
Let's go walking...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 4 and counting

4 more days! Amazing.
Why do I Relay you may ask? Well there are a number of reasons. A number of little reasons.
Little reasons called children who are battling childhood cancer. Childhood and cancer should never be used in the same sentence.

Do you remember my hero MaKenzie? She is still in the fight, despite the doctors saying there is no hope. The first part of August they gave her 2 weeks. She is still here. Has gone to Disneyland and saw Mickey and screamed "Weeee" on the rides. She is still giving hugs to her mother and brother.
Look at that face. There is no way I can't Relay. For all the little reasons.

Monday, October 12, 2009

5 days and counting

5 is for $5000 which is what we hope to raise between now and Thanksgiving. The biggest portion of that will be on Saturday night at Relay For Life.
Make no mistake, I am ready to call in all favors to make this happen. Any media contacts I have, watch out! Any companies that can purchase tickets, get those checkbooks out! And any friends, family or enemies, well, there is this online site you can go and donate and I will finally leave you alone (look on the right side of my blog, hit Stitching for a Cure Relay team and then hit donate).
In the words of Bob the Builder "Can we do it, yes WE CAN!"
Now raise those checkbooks, debit cards and credit cards high and use them to help save lives!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

6 days and counting

Folks we are less than one week away from the debut of the tree. Woo Hoo!
Did you know that American Cancer Society is the official sponsor of birthdays? It is! And you know how I LOVE BIRTHDAYS!
ACS helps people have more birthdays through education on cancer prevention and through new technology to help save cancer patients' lives. They are working on a cure everyday.
They give hope to those who feel they have no hope.
This next year, on my birthday, I am going to have a birthday celebration like no other. I am going to do a fundraising ACS birthday party. I want all gifts that people feel they want to give to me to celebrate my birthday to be given to help others. That can be in the form of a blood donation to help cancer patients who are having chemotherapy or a donation to ACS.
Won't you consider celebrating another year of life by donating to our Relay For Life team? You can help someone have another birthday!
You can donate by going to this link
and clicking on the donate now button. A $5 donation will make such a difference.
Happy birthday to all of you, wherever you are and whenever your birthday is!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 7 and counting

One week from today, at this time, I will be at Relay For Life setting up the tree. Pulling each ornament out of the box and placing it on the tree. Oooing and ahhing over each one, trying to remember each story. I have the notes you all sent me with your ornaments. I am sure I will read each one again and remember why you stitched it.
At Relay, if you have never been, there is a luminary ceremony at 9:00pm. All around the track, on both sides, are white paper bags with candles in them. On the bag is the name of someone special who has had cancer. Friends and families donate money for each one of these bags in memory of or in honor of a cancer patient.
The tree, with it's own lights, will be a giant luminary. Each ornament was carefully stitched in honor or in memory of a cancer patient.
In year's past I have walked the tree and took in each name, sometimes even remembering knowing the actual cancer patient. This year, I think I will simply sit by the tree, taking in all the precious time that was given to help others.
Did you know that we have 206 ornaments? 206. And more are coming.
Relay For Life is a time of reflection for me. A time to gather myself for the fight ahead. For the year ahead when I get frustrated in my job and wonder why I am doing this.
I walk and I stitch for a cure. And pray that this Relay will give hope to those who need it most.

Friday, October 9, 2009

8 days and counting...

It is now 8 days until Relay. Deep breath, Donna, deep breath!
So what do you do if your doctor says those dreaded words "I think it is cancer"?
Well, first, you take a deep breath and remember that cancer doesn't mean death. It means you are going to be in a fight for your life and you are going to need all the strength you have and all the strength of your friends and family to get through it.
Now is the time to lean on others. Hard to do, but you are going to need them.
Second, go to www.cancer.org That is the American Cancer Society website. There you can type in whatever your diagnosis is and pull up a multitude of information.
But it doesn't stop there. They have an on call nurse that you can talk to and they can advise you in the next step. They have support groups at the local ACS offices.
If you have to have treatment & have difficulty getting to your appointment, they have a program called Road to Recovery where trained volunteers will take you for your treatment.
And while you are undergoing treatment, they have a program called Look Good, Feel Better. They provide wigs for folks if they loose their hair during treatment, make up tips, bras for breast cancer survivors, etc.
Most of all, they are in the "survivor" business. They are here to help you.
Let's keep stitching for a cure...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

9 days and counting...

Wow! 9 more days until Relay For Life.
Since October is breast cancer awareness month, today I will focus on that.
This is I found on the American Cancer Society site:
Overview: Breast Cancer
What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a malignant (cancer) tumor that starts from cells of the breast. It is found mostly in women, but men can get breast cancer, too. Here we will only talk about breast cancer in women.
Parts of the normal breast

A woman's breast is made up of glands that make breast milk (called lobules), ducts (small tubes that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple), fatty and connective tissue, blood vessels, and lymph (pronounced limf) vessels. Most breast cancers begin in the cells that line the ducts (ductal cancer), some begin in the lobules (lobular cancer), and a small number start in other tissues.

The lymph system

The lymph system is one of the main ways in which breast cancers can spread. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped groups of immune system cells (cells that fight infections) that are connected by lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic vessels are like small veins, except that they carry a clear fluid called lymph (instead of blood) away from the breast. Breast cancer cells can enter lymphatic vessels and begin to grow in lymph nodes.

Most lymph vessels of the breast lead to lymph nodes under the arm. These are called axillary nodes. If breast cancer cells reach the underarm lymph nodes and keep on growing, they cause the nodes to swell. The doctor needs to know whether cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes because if they have, there is a higher chance that the cells have also gotten into the bloodstream and spread to other places in the body. The more lymph nodes that have cancer in them, the more likely it is that the cancer will be found in other organs, too. This could affect the treatment plan.

Breast lumps that are not cancer

Most breast lumps are benign. This means they are not cancer. Benign breast tumors are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside of the breast and they are not life threatening. But some benign breast lumps can increase a woman's risk of getting breast cancer.

Most lumps are caused by fibrocystic changes. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs. Fibrosis is the formation of scar-like tissue. These changes can cause breast swelling and pain. They often happen just before a woman's period is about to start. The breasts may feel lumpy, and sometimes there is a clear or slightly cloudy nipple discharge. For more on fibrocystic changes and other benign breast changes, please see our document, Non-cancerous Breast Conditions.

Breast cancer terms

It can be hard to understand some of the words your doctor uses to talk about breast cancer. Here are some of the key words you might hear:

Carcinoma: This is a term used to describe a cancer that begins in the lining layer of organs such as the breast. Nearly all breast cancers are carcinomas (either ductal carcinomas or lobular carcinomas).

Adenocarcinoma: An adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that starts in gland tissue (tissue that makes and secretes a substance). The ducts and lobules of the breast are gland tissues because they make breast milk, so cancers starting in these areas are often called adenocarcinomas.

Carcinoma in situ: This term is used for the early stage of cancer, when it is still only in the layer of cells where it began. In breast cancer, in situ means that the cancer cells are only in the ducts (ductal carcinoma in situ) or lobules (lobular carcinoma in situ). They have not spread into deeper tissues in the breast or to other organs in the body. They are sometimes called non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancers.

Invasive (infiltrating) carcinoma: An invasive cancer is one that has already grown beyond the layer of cells where it started (unlike carcinoma in situ). Most breast cancers are invasive carcinomas -- either invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma.

Sarcoma: Sarcomas are cancers that start from connective tissues such as muscle tissue, fat tissue or blood vessels. Sarcomas of the breast are rare.

Types of breast cancers

There are many types of breast cancer, but some of them are very rare. Sometimes a breast tumor can be a mix of these types or a mixture of invasive and in situ cancer.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): This is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. DCIS means that the cancer is only in the ducts. It has not spread through the walls of the ducts into the tissue of the breast. Nearly all women with cancer at this stage can be cured. Often the best way to find DCIS early is with a mammogram. If there are areas of dead or dying cancer cells (called tumor necrosis) within the biopsy sample (when tissue is taken out to be looked at in the lab), the tumor is likely to grow and spread quickly (be more aggressive).

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): This begins in the milk-making glands (lobules) but does not go through the wall of the lobules. It is not a true cancer, but having LCIS increases a woman's risk of getting cancer later. For this reason, it's important that women with LCIS make sure they have regular mammograms and doctor visits.

Invasive (or infiltrating) ductal carcinoma (IDC): This is the most common breast cancer. It starts in a milk passage (a duct), breaks through the wall of the duct, and invades the tissue of the breast. From there it may be able to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. It accounts for about 8 out of 10 invasive breast cancers.

Invasive (infiltrating) lobular carcinoma (ILC): This cancer starts in the milk glands (the lobules). It can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. About 1 out of 10 invasive breast cancers are of this type.

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC): This uncommon type of invasive breast cancer accounts for about 1% to 3% of all breast cancers. Usually there is no single lump or tumor. Instead, IBC makes the skin of the breast look red and feel warm. It also makes the skin look thick and pitted, something like an orange peel. The breast may get bigger, hard, tender, or itchy.

In its early stages, inflammatory breast cancer is often mistaken for infection. Because there is no defined lump, it may not show up on a mammogram, which may make it even harder to catch it early. It usually has a higher chance of spreading and a worse outlook than invasive ductal or lobular cancer. For more details, see our document, Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

But breast cancer doesn't just affect women. Men too can be affected. You can find out more at www.cancer.org
Look for breast cancer in men in our document, Breast Cancer in Men.

Tomorrow I will talk about ways that ACS helps breast cancer and other cancer patients as we continue our countdown to Relay!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

10 days and counting

Today I begin the 10 days of counting before Relay. Each day I will focus on something different.
Today is a day of thanks.
First of all I have to thank all of you. Your support has meant more to me than you will ever know. Your stitching ornaments, messages of encouragement, prayers, etc. have kept me going through this year long journey.
Second of all, I must thank my husband. He has listened to me ramble on and on about this project. He has put up with me storing boxes of ornaments and keeping late nights on the computer, chatting with you all about the project and all that goes with it. He has had me stitching like a mad woman at times and talking to myself about batting, cording, and finishing challenges. He is my anchor and I couldn't do it without him. James, I love you!
Third, I have to thank my dear mother who has been my prayer warrior. I love you Mom!
Fourth, this project would not have even gotten started if it weren't for my daughter Jennifer's computer wizardry. She showed me how to get the blog started, how to post pictures and links, etc. She also listened to me ramble on and on about this. She encouraged me when I got nervous about everything and she will be here on Saturday night, October 17th to debut the tree. Jen, you are so precious to me and I love you.
Fifth, I must thank my co-workers. They too have listened to me ramble. They have had all the appropriate ooo's and ah's when ornies came in. They have supported me in this journey all the way. Thanks so much to all of them. Jim, Keith, Kristin, Stephanie, Dawn, Debra, Esmeralda, Janet, Lisa, Davena, Terry, Vicki, Colette, Yolanda, Carol & Sarah, thank you for not fussing when I presented this idea and all of it's challenges. We are a team and I could not do this without all of you!
Sixth, thank you to all of the patients who have told me their stories and thank you to the families who told me the stories of their friends and families when the friend and families couldn't. You are my inspiration!
Whew! Just 10 more days...

Friday, October 2, 2009

S is for stitching, stories & survival

I received three ornies today. Both had written stories as to why and how the ornies were made.
The first is from Cindy Mae:

This is what she wrote: "I pray that you are able to raise a ton of money with it (the tree). I had a cousin who passed this year and this ornament was made in honor and memory of her. Her name was Nannette and she was born 1966 and had battled cancer 8 times since she was 16 years old. She was such a strong woman who touched countless people's lives through her battle with cancer. The thing I loved about her is that she felt in her death she was not loosing her battle with cancer, just winning because she would join her Father in Heaven. Awesome attitude! She had an amazing husband and two children that she left but she knew in her heart that she will meet them again some day."

The next two ornies are from Pamela and her mother Lois:


Here is Pam's story: "I sent you an email back in February about waiting in the waiting room with my mom while my dad was having a medical procedure. My Mom (Lois) had never taken an interest in stitching, but I was working on my ornament for you and she was very interested. She asked me to show her how to stitch. Since I had extra fabric and thread, we sat in the waiting room and I taught her.
Her very first stitched project-and finish- is one of the ornaments included in this package. The pink and white ornament is the one my mom stitched and we finished it together. This is particularly special because this year marks my mom's 10th year as a breast cancer survivor! She moves slower these days, but is doing well"

I have said this many times and I am going to say it again. When I started this project I thought we would make some ornaments, make some money for a good cause and then be done with it.
I will never be done with it. The reason is that you all have given me your stories, your hearts, your love of stitching and helping and I have taken it all inside. You are a part of me, much like my heart and lungs are a part of me. Thank you for all you have given me and given for this project.

We are almost to a countdown...

Well folks, we are 2 weeks away from Relay For Life and the debut of the Christmas tree. We have collected $419 so far and we haven't even started selling raffle tickets for the big tree.
Starting on Oct.7, I am going to do a 10 day countdown. It will be fun & educational. So be sure to check back then.
In the meantime, if you want to do a financial donation for the Stitching for a Cure Relay For Life project please go to the link below and click on donations. Any amount ($5 is the minimum you can donate online) will help! Remember, we couldn't have and can't do this without you! Thanks.
Relay For Life

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New ornies from friends

Whew! The postman has been good to me this week. I have received ornies from Cindy, Cindy F., Yesenia, Peggy, Karan & Courtney this week. Here are pics of the ornies they sent:






Aren't they all just lovely? Everywhere I go there is a buzz about this tree. It is going to be spectacular!
Thanks to all. They are all beautimus!