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Pinktober, A Breast Cancer Awareness Blog Hop

In honor of breast cancer awareness month, I am participating in the Pinktober blog hop. Breast cancer, unfortunately is prevalent and affects approximately 1 in 8 women. Every year I go and get my mammogram and it is part of my preventative health regimen. It is important to have a yearly exam and do monthly self exams as part of preventative care.

My sister and I.

Last year, February of 2021, my sister went for her yearly exam. She had gone every year before that with normal results, but last year was different. During her exam two lumps were identified. She does self exams, but could not feel anything. These lumps were deeper in her left breast.

My brother and I

She was notified by her doctor that the lumps needed to be biopsied. They were biopsied and were found to be cancerous. She was also told that this type of breast cancer does not respond to estrogen therapy therefore a treatment plan was suggested that consisted of surgery to remove the cancer and any lympnodes that would be affected. Subsequently, she would need to have 20 weeks of chemotherapy and 21 days of radiation. This was a difficult time for our family because, not even a week after my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, my brother was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Both were going to need treatments and surgery.

This was devastating news as it would be for anyone to hear. She calls me to tell me the news. What does one say? There really are no words. Hearing that your sister is going to have to have surgery and treatments is heartbreaking and all I can really do is try to be supportive. Her treatments were also very aggressive because of the type of breast cancer she had.

She had surgery in March, started chemotherapy in April and completed it in September and then started radiation in November. All were difficult and came with their own issues. It is a lengthy process and takes a toll on the body, mind and soul. Yes, the doctors do their best to treat the physical problem, but the mental toll it takes is evident. I could see on my sister's face and hear in her voice the pain she was going through. It was heart breaking. It is heart breaking because nothing can be done but just watch, wait and see. Also, the surgery and treatments are exhausting and painful, not to mention the plethora of side effects that come with the treatments. The doctor's treat the cancer but the side effects of treatment can be just as awful as knowing you have to fight cancer.

Karina during her treatment.

She started to lose her hair and eventually lost it all. Her skin was dry, peeling and cracking. Her fingernails and toenails were lost or were brittle. She was in pain from the surgery and could not get comfortable. She also had neuropathy in her extremities. The doctor's do talk to you about these side effects, but they, themselves are not going through it. The effects are physically and mentally long-lasting even after the treatments are completed.

The hope is that she will overcome it and remain cancer free. It weighs heavy on the heart and is always in the back of your mind that it could come back.

This year, November 2022 will mark her one year anniversary after her diagnosis, surgery and treatments were completed. She still needs to take medication for at least five years in hopes of preventing cancerous cells from forming. My hope is that she remains cancer free and continues to grow strong and get healthy. She is the strongest woman I know! She worked non-stop while receiving her treatments and continued to fight cancer.

A rock I found at a nearby park while visiting my sister when she had surgery. So meaningful.

February 2022- Cancun Vacation A Year After Her Diagnosis

So how or why did I decide to do this blog hop. I knew there wasn't much I could do but to support my sister and let her know I am here for her. I went to be with her during her surgery and visited her over the summer and fall. We spoke with each other pretty much every day over the phone because we do not live in the same state. She is in Connecticut and I am in Florida. I wanted to celebrate her one year anniversary of being cancer free.

In the beginning, I made a quilt and a comfort bag for her so that she could hopefully feel more comfortable but it wasn't much. I wanted to do something more to honor her and get the word out to get examined each year.

I decided to contact Island Batik fabrics in July to see if they would like to support or sponsor a blog hop for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. They said yes and the ball started to get rolling. I asked Aurifil threads and Klipit if they would like to join in sponsoring the blog and they said yes too. This was great news!

Twelve bloggers in total signed up for the blog hop including myself. Every one of them have been affected by breast cancer or cancers associated with women in one way or another. I was hoping that each woman would share their story and make something in honor of October's Breast Cancer Awareness month and participate in The Pinktober Blog Hop!

The theme was pink of course! Island Batik fabrics gave each blogger precut stacks or strips of their Hope And Heart or Positively Pink fabric collections with a choice of two coordinating colors. Both collections include symbols of hope and love. Aurifil provided a spool of pink 50wt thread to each blogger and Klipit gave each blogger two packages of pink Quilters Perfect Klips to use while quilting. These clips are great for quilting because they are larger than other clips and have a good grasp on the fabric.

I decided to design and make a lap quilt. It included spiral rectangles inside each other and hearts inside of squares. I chose to put black hearts inside the majority of the quilt to represent the heartbreak that one feels when going through this difficult time. I also chose the spiral rectangle blocks to represent the tail spin of emotions that seems to occur. These things that are happening in your life change everything! Overall, the message of the pink ribbon, words of positivity and pink quilt remind us to have hope. Normally, in my blog posts, I talk about a technique or a method for a quilt I've made. This time, I focused more on the meaning of the quilt.

I have been in awe of the women and sponsors that chose to participate in this blog. It has been heartwarming to know so many people want to share their experiences. Breast cancer affects so many of us in different ways. It is not the news anyone wants to get. There are so many people that are fighting it right now, those that have survived and others that have lost their battle with breast cancer. My great hope is that those continuing to fight and those that have lost a loved one to breast cancer can gather strength from this community of warriors and ultimately find peace.

I set up this blog to honor my sister and her journey but also to implore others out there to get an annual exam and be mindful of those that have lost their battle with cancer and send hope and positivity to those fighting it now.

This quilt will be given to a co-worker of my sister who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Ashley will be starting her treatments soon and I hope that this quilt can provide a moment of comfort and wrap her in a warm hug.

I had extra fabric leftover so I decided to make a couple of pillows and zippered pouches. These will be donated to my local infusion center where many people are receiving cancer treats. Maybe they can be just a little something handmade and cheer up someone going through a difficult time in their life.

The mural that I chose as a backdrop for my photo of the quilt says it all, "Be Here Now", as we don't know if tomorrow will come. I truly believe this statement as is transcends to so many things that we encounter in our lives. Live your life to the fullest as we never know how long we will be here or if we will be able to enjoy life's pleasures of sharing love, laughter, hopes and dreams.

I want to thank all of the sponsors, Klipit, Aurifil thread and Island Batik fabrics for supporting this blog. We could not have done it without you. I also want to thank every blogger for sharing your story and choosing to make something to honor breast cancer awareness month. Thank you for joining the Pinktober Blog Hop!

Please take the time to look at all of the blogs. Each woman has shared their story.

Jennifer Thomas-Monday, October 3rd

Lisa Pickering -Tuesday, October

Maryellen McAuliffe -Thursday, October 6th

Emily Leachman - Monday, October 10th

Jane Hauprich -Tuesday, October 11th

Marlene Oddie - Wednesday, October 12th

Gail Sheppard - Thursday, October 13th

Jerry Stube - Friday, October 14th

Brianna Roberts- Monday, October 17th

Terri Vanden-Bosch - Tuesday, October 18th

Mania Hatziioannidi - Wednesday, October 19th

Laura Piland -Thursday, October 20th

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