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I wrote a Happy Father’s Day post dedicated to my Dad in June 2011.  In that post there was this passage:  “As I celebrate Father’s day this ear, I am so grateful that my father has survived his bout with stage 3 colon cancer.  And as of today, he is cancer free and in great health.”  Just two short years ago we were celebrating survivorship.

Not long after that original Father’s day post, my Dad was once again diagnosed with cancer.  The colon cancer had returned and metastasized in his liver; this time with one tumor and major surgery was required.

In January of 2012, he had a liver resection done to remove the tumor.  After 1/3 of his liver was removed, and an extended hospital stay, he entered into rehabilitation center for what would be a long 2 month journey, to begin to get his strength back.  He fully recovered and was once again free of cancer.  This however, did not last long.  In December of 2012, he began to have warning signs that the cancer had returned.  After a brief stay in the hospital, our worst nightmare was realized yet once again.  This time his colon cancer was back and once again metastasized in the liver.  Three tumors were found, his cancer was now advanced stage IV.

Dad SleepingThis Father’s Day I am dedicating another post, this time in his memory.  My Father lost his brave, courageous battle with cancer this past April.

So today I want to share a little piece of the man my Dad was, and pay honor to him because his journey with cancer is why I started Layers of Love.  But my Dad did not let cancer define him.

On the morning my Dad passed away my nephew posted a photo of facebook of my Dad smiling while eating crabs and titled it “simple pleasures.”  If there were ever two words that described my Dad “simple pleasures” would be it.

My Dad lived his life enjoying the simple pleasures.  He loved fishing, following sports, especially baseball and the Phillies, relaxing on his back porch with a cigar, and he savored a good meal.  He was happiest in the company of his family and friends.  He didn’t need to be the center of attention, in fact, he would just like to be sitting quietly enjoying the banter and conversation of everyone around him.  On his last stay in the hospital, I was talking to him about our conversations in the car on the way to various appointments over the past few years. At the end of that conversation he looked at me and said, “I just love to listen to my children’s conversations.”

Simple pleasures.

My Dad above all was an honorable, giving man, a protector of his family.  On the last few days of his life even though he was unable to speak, he continued to shelter my siblings from his pain and illness. In fact, in the 4 years that I went with him to each doctor visit, I never once heard him say he had pain. He never mentioned pain until he came home one final time into the care of hospice. He took actions and made decisions as much as three months before he passed away that would prove to spare my Mom added heartbreak and sadness.  On the last three days of my Dad’s life, he taught me more about honor and giving than he had all of my life.  Even today, because my eyes are wide open, he continues to give me gifts. Honorable and giving to say the very least.

Enjoying the sunrise over the October ocean waves, rising early to brew coffee and sitting quietly to read the morning paper, watching Chase Utley hit a game winning RBI, sitting and listening to his family’s conversation around him……

Simple pleasures.

Layers of Love has been a bit quiet lately because I have taken time to be with my family.  Behind the scenes, we have continued to field private requests and have remained active shipping blankets to both individuals and infusion centers all over the United States.  Our mission will never stop.  As long as there is a chemotherapy patient we will continue to provide a brand new fleece blanket to give them comfort and warmth as they go through their treatment.  I started Layers of Love because of a need and a passion.

This is what I wrote in my welcome post over 3 years ago on this blog:

“The first time I sat with my parents in the waiting room of the Cooper Cancer Institute, I was struck by not just the number of patients who walked through the door, but by how many of them carried a tote bag with a fleece blanket tucked inside.

As my mom and I walked my dad in for his appointment, the reason became apparent – the temperature in the treatment room dropped considerably. The first thing my dad said as he settled into his chair was, “I sure wish I brought my blanket with me…it’s cold in here!” Not only is the room kept cooler, but as we all soon learned, being cold is a side effect of chemotherapy.

While hospital blankets are of course provided, they are the standard, thin sort. Hardly the type I’d imagine would provide any real warmth and comfort. Judging by the blankets other patients chose to bring, fleece is the fabric of choice.”

I know my Dad was incredibly proud of what Layers of Love has become over the past few years we began to grow and help more patients.  He was as passionate about Layers of Love as I am.

To quote my original Father’s Day post from 2011 “So to my Dad I say, Happy Father’s Day, I love you.  In honor of you, Layers of love, my passion (and yours) continues to go on.”

My Dad

In the days since my Dad lost his battle with cancer we have been overwhelmed by the donations of brand new fleece blankets in his memory.  Next week Layers of Love will begin to share photos of all the generous donations we have received.  We are truly blessed and grateful for everyone who has sent us blankets.  You have brought my family and I plenty of comfort and warmth. Thank you. 

We get a TON of emails asking us if it is hard to prepare a no-sew blanket to donate to Layers of Love.  Our answer is always the same – NO!  The fact is it’s very easy to prepare a no-sew fleece blanket.  Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a very ‘crafty’ person you can easily put together a blanket in under an hour.  Hint:  It’s less time if you have a friend or two and a LOT more fun!

Take a look at this Haiku Deck we put together to show you just how easy it is to prepare one:

Preparing a No-Sew Fleece Blanket for a Chemotherapy Patient

Please note, you can prepare a blanket directly from a no-sew kit, these are available in many craft and super stores, or you can purchase fleece fabric separately.  If you are preparing a blanket for an adult patient it should measure 72″x72″ and for a pediatric patient 48″x60″.  For more information and guidelines please visit the tabs above or our website: Layers of Love.

Tying BlanketsLayers of Love was launched on February 24, 2010.  We are nearing our three year anniversary.  Layers of Love began because of a simple need, one terrible side effect of chemotherapy treatment is being susceptible to cold.

Fleece Blanket Donations

In just under three years we have provided over 600 brand new fleece blankets to chemotherapy patients all over the United States and Canada.  We have received donations from all over the world.  We have donated blankets to Cancer infusion centers all over the United States, from Miami to New York City, from Camden, New Jersey to Milwaukee, from California to North Carolina and many more locations. We collect  both adult sized blankets and pediatric sized blankets.  We collect pediatric size blankets for two wonderful organizations: Chai Lifeline and The Isiah Alonso Foundation.  We have also shipped blankets that have been privately requested by loved ones for their friends, family members, and work colleagues.  We have received requests through our twitter account, our facebook page and through email.  Layers of Love is proud to say that we have never turned down a request for a blanket.  In fact, we have even been able to fulfill requests that have come in for multiple blankets to infusion centers from both nurses and patients.

The reason we have been able to provide so many chemotherapy patients with comfort and warmth is because of generous people just like you.  We have so many friends of Layers of Love donate blankets so that we can continue on our mission.

Community Groups

We have had community groups, church groups, Girl Scout Troops, Brownie Troops, a Life ScoutUniversity dorms, Summer Camp programs plus incredible individuals that have continuously donated blankets to us time and time again.   We are so grateful and thank you for all the support, and blanket donations we have received over the past three years.  With each day that passes by we become more and more committed to providing comfort and warmth to chemotherapy patients.  We do not intend on stopping until each and every chemotherapy patient has a blanket to provide them with comfort and warmth as they go through their treatment. What three years has taught us is that not only are we warming a chemotherapy patient’s body with our blankets, we are also warming their hearts.  What three years has taught us, is that when a chemotherapy patient receives a brand new fleece blanket that was donated from a complete stranger, their face lights up, their hope is raised,  they don’t feel so alone, their heart is indeed warmed. We hope that as we begin on this next year of our journey that you will continue to support our mission, to help us carry on the comfort and warmth.

If you would like to donate a brand new fleece blanket to Layers of Love and aren’t sure where to begin, be sure to visit our website. Check out the FAQ/Guideline tab for more information.

Layers of Love is in the process of moving our website over to new servers and a new hosting site.  During this time our site will be offline periodically.  This also will effect our email address.  If you need to get in touch with us here at Layers of Love please use the following address for the next few days - Layersoflove1@gmail.com You can also message us through our facebook page.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this might cause during this time.  We are excited to have a new website up and running as quickly as possible and a lot of great things planned for the coming year!

Any Donation Counts!

At Layers of Love we are proud to provide fleece blankets to chemotherapy patients to provide them with comfort and warmth as they go through their treatments.  This is our mission but it is also our passion.  We have often said, as long as there are chemotherapy patients we will do our best to provide them with blankets.  It is indeed our passion.

However our passion doesn’t stop there.  We are also very proud to support many different efforts from many other sources whether it be charitable organizations or individuals making a difference to help cancer patients both adults and children.

This weekend we are giving our support to a young man who is having a walk-a-thon fundraiser to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  According to Connor Beck the 16 year-old, who is organizing the walk-a-thon in the Palmerton Park, “The hospital provides free care to all of it’s patients, and relies mainly on public donations.  These children need our support, and the money we raise could help fund the breakthrough for new treatments.  St. Jude’s freely shares all of their research finds, so donating to them is donating to children everywhere.”

We are proud to stand with,  and support Connor Beck and all those who come out to walk this Saturday morning to benefit St. Jude’s Research Hospital.  If you would like to join Connor and all the participants please come out to the Palmerton Park on Saturday morning, September 29.  The walk starts at 9:30, the walk will be around the beautiful boro park, participants are welcome to walk as long as they wish!  So bring your friends and join the many others who will be walking to help the many children who need our support and the support of St. Jude’s Research Hospital.  We look forward to seeing you there!

If you would like to support Connor Beck and his efforts, but can’t make it to the walk-a-thon  Saturday morning you can still help the cause for St. Jude’s  by donating directly through his St. Jude’s donation page.  No donation is too small, so donate today!

Layers of Love would like to thank Connor for his efforts to benefit St. Jude’s this weekend.  He is making a big difference to many children-Thank you Connor!!

With the turning of your calendar to September, fall begins to usher in with cooler temperatures, and students young and old begin a new year in school.  This is the time that many community* groups begin to form and start up once again.  This is the perfect time to begin thinking about community* projects.

Layers of Love lends itself perfectly to these projects.

Here’s what some participants have told us about making blankets:

They enjoyed making these blankets very much and are glad that the blankets will bring comfort to children undergoing chemotherapy.” ~Girl Scout Troop 824’s Leader

“People just kept giving and giving, and it allowed us to buy more to make more.” ~Diane Huber who’s church group donated several times to Layers of Love.

“The children’s little fingers were so happy to tying blankets that were going to provide comfort for chemotherapy patients.”  ~Bethany Wesley Church’s Youth Group Leader

“It’s really important to me that these women who receive these blankets know that they have support and prayers from all the girls in our dorm.” ~Karis, student at Purdue University, and Windsor Residence Hall Social Director

“When is the next Fleece Blanket Tying Night? I hope you have another one!”  ~Participant of blanket tying community event at the Palmerton Library

“Just let us know when!”  ~Participant during our first Family Fun Blanket Tying Night, when asked if they’d like to join our blanket tying night again.

We have been closely involved in several community projects that were completed for Layers of Love and one very BIG underlying sentiment is always present with every occasion:  friendship, conversation, collaboration and accomplishment.  There is something magical that happens when several people are gathered around the same blanket working together to complete it.  During those community events we often hear: “Wow, we made all the blankets already?  Time really flew by!  Are you having another blanket tying event?  We’d like to join in again! This is a lot of fun!”

The most important part of the community’s* group efforts is the chemotherapy patients who will benefit from these brand new fleece blankets.  Even in the warmest of temperatures outdoors or even indoors, a terrible side effect of chemotherapy is being cold.  These blankets will provide a patient with comfort and warmth.  The blankets will not only warm their body but will also warm their hearts.  Just by knowing someone they’ve never met took time and made them a blanket can turn their whole journey with this terrible disease around.

If your community* group is starting up again for the fall we hope you will consider a project making blankets for Layers of Love.

You would like to make blankets but aren’t sure where to start, check out our Putting It All Together post. With step-by-step instructions of how to prepare a blanket.  Need sizing information see our FAQ page.   Looking for other information that you didn’t see on our FAQ page be sure to check out our Guidelines page.  If you have any questions/concerns that were not addressed in the links above please contact us in the comments below or at our email: patty@layersoflove.net  We collect blankets for both adult and pediatric cancer patients.

If your community* group would like to donate blankets to Layers of Love and would like some help to get started let us know.  We have worked, and continue to work, with several groups, giving directions of how to put the blankets together, supplying scissors, even gathering more volunteers for your group if needed.  Making blankets truly is community collaboration at its best!

*Community group: High School group, Senior Project, Scout Project, Senior Citizen Project, Girl Scout Troop, Boy Scouts, Youth group, Church group.

Let’s Talk Cancer

I am thrilled and excited that this Thursday, May 3 I will have the honor of being a guest on the radio show Let’s Talk Cancer.  The radio show can be found at WWDB-AM 860 on your radio dial or you can listen live on their website.

Taken from the mission statement of WWDB-AM 860:

“With it’s powerful 10,000 watt signal, WWDB-AM 860 is heard loud and clear throughout the Delaware Valley.  WWDB-AM 860 is “Made in America” radio, homegrown and proud.  

“But there is another important dimension to the line-up at WWDB-AM 860 and that’s talk radio.  WWDB-AM 860 is the legacy Talk Radio Station and people come here to the 555 Building to broadcast their programs Live and Local.  WWDB is proud to make airtime available for those serious broadcasters with a unique point of view, with voices that need a radio platform on which to be heard.” 

Let’s Talk Cancer is hosted by Kim Cirucci and Denise Ciliberti-Sosalski.  “They are two friends who talk the Big-C.  Kim is living with cancer and her friend Denise is by her side for honest heartfelt conversation.  They are two south Philly girls on a mission to spread hope and cheer for everyone effected by the disease.”  Kim and Denise truly have a global reach.  On their show they  interview people who are effected by cancer from all over the world.  Last week they interviewed Anne who resides in Ireland.

On Kim and Denise’s show they spread hope, inspiration and the cancer journey with their listeners.  I look forward to be joining them both to talk about cancer and Layers of Love.  It promises to be a great show.  I hope you will join us at LIVE at 12:30 pm est this Thursday, May 3.  If you can’t make the show live be sure to check their website for the podcast recording of the show, where you can listen to all their previous shows as well.

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