Patrick Daems | Laundry Basket Full of Hearts

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

It’s an unforgettable sight. It’s what makes you think, the world is good. I’m carrying a laundry basket full of hearts. Blue ones, purple, red, some decorated with flower patterns, some plain, some in polka dots… more than 20 of them. Each one carefully wrapped in cellophane, closed with a colorful ribbon. 

They’re called comfort pillows, for women recovering from breast cancer surgery. They slip them underneath their arms to cope with the discomfort, the day-to-day challenges during treatment. They wear them standing, sitting, laying down. It’s never just surgery, is it? There’ll be radiation, or chemo, or both. A long trajectory. These pillows are a building block to their recovery. 

Joan has been working on them for a while now. The idea came when our daughter was hit with breast cancer. Only Stage 1, the doctor said. We’ll deal with it quickly and effectively. Not sure why he said that. The battle against cancer is never quick, and once you’ve got hit, there always will be the nagging thought, will it come again? Jennifer fought her battle, courageously. It took seven or eight months to get through all the treatment steps. She’s in remission now. During that journey of Jennifer, Joan, while corresponding with our friend Barbara in Antwerp, learned about the comfort pillows, and Barbara — bless her soul — promptly followed through and sent us one. Jennifer’s been carrying it underneath her arm for months. It’s a real comfort, she kept saying. Why didn’t my doctors or their staff suggest that? So next time Joan and Jennifer were at the surgeon’s office they inquired, and then Joan suggested that perhaps she could make some for other patients. “Oh yes, that’d be totally great!” was the response. 

So that’s how the production of the colorful hearts in our house began. Materials, stuffing, plastic bags and satin ribbons were ordered. Amazon delivered within days. It’ll be under $7 apiece, Joan boasts to me. A couple of days ago she and Jennifer stuffed the pillow cases. They promptly came alive. It’s a glorious sight to see. 

It’s what ordinary people can do for their fellow citizens. No thank you necessary. Just to know that a patient will get some comfort during a very stressful period in her life, that’s the reward, isn’t it, Joan says? 

I couldn’t agree more.

Patrick Daems

Stevenson Ranch

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