Saturday, December 2, 2017

#91: Cancer Can Kiss My Donkey

My 91st quilt is going to a special person in California. Renee and I met many years ago when I was a marketing director and she was a first-time author whose book, Stumbling Toward Faith, was assigned to my care. Renee wrote a powerful memoir about finding faith after being abused by those should have been most trustworthy.

Unfortunately, I sustained my brain injury right around the time her book was released. I've always felt bad that I wasn't able to do more to get her story out. 

Recently, Renee was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer that has metastasized to her liver, lymph nodes, and lungs. Her doctor's prognosis is grim. My heart is broken for her that she has to endure yet another painful trial, and for her husband and child as they face an uncertain future that may not include the one they love.

My words fail me in times like these. I feel helpless as I read her updates, but am inspired by her transparency, honesty, and bravery. I have learned that rectal cancer is particularly cruel. I knew I needed to make her a quilt. 

Renee and many of her friends have freely used some cheeky language as they talk about her particular type of cancer. Their conversation inspired my design. 

I chose blue as the primary color, because it is the color most often used for colorectal cancer awareness. Although brown is also used at times. 

For the letters, I used Lori Holt's awesome new book Spelling Bee. I have no doubt I'll be referring to it again and again. 

The donkey pattern has a cool history. It was first published in the Kansas City Star in 1931! Tim Latimer of Tim Quilts, wrote more about it on his blog

The only change I made to use Lori's book to make a small "R" for Renee on the donkey's blanket.

The letters were really fun to put together and the tutorials are some of the most clearly written I've seen. I posted a letter a day to Instagram. It was fun to have people guess what the letters would spell. 

Other than the little tweak with adding the letter, the donkey went together very quickly. 

 I did something different for the border. I cut the corner pieces on the diagonal.

For the back, I wanted a super soft minky. I quilted it with a great big spiral centered on Renee's R. The quilt is quite large so I definitely got an arm workout wrestling with it on my domestic machine, but I'm happy with how it turned out. 

Quilting from the front. 

I finished the quilt at night, but couldn't wait to take a picture. 

I kept with the backside theme with the label. I borrowed the image from another of Renee's friends, Heidi, who designed the artwork and is selling prints to help offset costs for Renee's treatment.

As with all our quilts, we finish by praying a blessing over it and the person who will receive it, and D wraps his love in it. When I told D about Renee and why I was making her the quilt, he said, "Well then, this quilt needs extra love."

This quilt got a little extra "kick" added to it. One of D's friends was over while it was hanging on the back porch. D and C wanted to give cancer a swift kick, too.

I hope this quilt gives Renee a little comfort on the hard days and serves as a tangible reminder of all the love being sent her way.


Renee ended her fight with cancer this evening, September 18, 2018.

To see more pictures of this project, check the hashtag #cckmdquilt on Instagram. You can see what I'm currently working on by following me at deJongDreamHouse.

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  1. Fabulous quilt! Such a wonderful gift!

  2. What a wonderful way to support and love Renee!

  3. This is so FANTASTIC, Jen! I love how it turned out. And you know what? There's a time and a place for everything, including colorful language. Renee's situation is one of those when given phrases can do much to relieve stress. Super cute quilt that she is sure to completely love.

  4. This is great - love the quilt and all the care you put into making it.

  5. What a cute quilt! Absolutely perfect, and I'm sure it will give comfort to Renee (along with a laugh!) That perfect photo of D and C kicking a## is wonderful! Thanks for linking up to Wednesday Wait Loss.

  6. Wonderful support for your friend. As you said, there truly never are words for comfort. But these photos are full of them.

  7. Definitely a fun quilt for your friend!


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