Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Revisiting Hope for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Hi, all!

That beautiful smiling face up there is Savannah, who in 2006 was diagnosed with Stage IV Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma.  Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I want to share an old blog post with you - the story of the quilt we made for Savannah.  


This quilt has a great story.....  A couple of days after Christmas, I received a package of blocks from Diane over at Life Scraps containing some pretty pink and green blocks and block kits, and some purple scraps that she was donating to our church's quilt ministry.  When I e-mailed her to let her know they had arrived, she told me that the purple scraps were originally intended to be made up in another rendition of this quilt, but she decided she didn't want to make the same quilt twice.  So I put the scraps in a bag with the intention of making up her pretty squares quilt sometime in the future.
Cut now to the second week in January.   I got an e-mail from a friend at church asking us to make a quilt for Savannah, a ten-year old girl with cancer - she has been battling it a long time and just got some unfavorable test results.  Anyway, I e-mailed her back and asked her if she knew anything about the Savannah's color preferences or likes and dislikes, and she told me she'd see what she could find out and get back to me.  

The next morning, we woke up to lots of snow and no travel because the roads were so bad.  Faced with a toddler-less day and a sewing machine, I headed upstairs to my studio to work on some old projects!  After I finished one, I checked the computer to see if my friend had e-mailed me with any more info on the little girl.  Nothing there.  So I decided to go ahead and work with the purple fabrics, and if it didn't work for Savannah, we'd just give the quilt to someone else.  I worked on it all afternoon, adding a few purple fabrics I had and some white fabric, and got 30 blocks done for the center of the quilt.  
Still no information from my friend, but it occurred to me that Savannah might have a Caring Bridge webpage, so I checked, and lo and behold, she did!  I went in to her photo section to see if I could tell anything about her favorite colors - - - and her entire bedroom is decorated in purples and apple green!!  So I went ahead and finished the quilt top, knowing that this little girl's quilt had been determined long before I even heard about her!  

I even found a piece of white and purple print in my stash that would work, colorwise, with the front of the quilt - but I was worried about it being too traditional compared to the contemporary front.  I took it to church to show some of my fellow quilters to get their read on it, and happened to run into Keri, a good friend of Savannah and her family.  Keri saw the fabric and without my even mentioning it, asked if it would be part of her quilt - because it had butterflies on it, and butterflies are Savannah's favorites!

I named this quilt "Hope" - and the name is worked into the quilting on one of the blocks.  Our prayer was for it to bring Savannah hope every day!

But working with our quilt ministry, one of the hardest things we have to accept is that sometimes the recipients of our quilts don't survive the illness that brought them to our attention.  It's so hard - even if we don't know the person personally, they become part of our own little world as we make the quilt for them and pray for them.  See that beautiful smile right over there?  Sweet Savannah went home in March, and is dancing with the angels now.  She touched so many lives while she was here - there are green bows all over town in her honor, put up months ago in support of her fight against cancer.   

Recently a group of us were sewing on some quilts, and one of the staff members at church came in to tell us that when hospice was called in, Savannah asked that the quilt we made be put on her bed.  She also asked that the quilt go with her body to the funeral home when it was time.  Her family brought the quilt home after the funeral, and hopefully it will continue to provide comfort for many years to come.   
The fabric for this quilt was donated by a fellow quilt blogger.  Unknowingly, she sent the perfect fabric for this little girl's quilt at just the right time.  Thankfully, we have a Father who watches over us all the time and provides for our needs.  Every day, working with this quilt ministry, I am reminded of that fact.  I'm grateful to have been a small part of Savannah's story, and I'm grateful for what she taught me about God's love through her life. 


I never met Savannah in person, but she changed my life.  I now know that God cares about even the little things.  I learned this week that Savannah's middle name was Hope.  God knew that writing "Hope" on her quilt would mean much to her and her family!  I am forever indebted to Savannah for the lessons I have learned through her life.

Thank you for allowing to share her story again with you.  Help spread the word that we need to work for the cure for childhood cancer!!




  1. Hi Sarah,

    You are so wonderful. Our son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 3 and one of his and his sister's most treasured prizes are quilts made by some wonderful quilters.
    We pray for you often and the quilts that you make.


  2. This is such a lovely post, though of course I'm sad to hear of Savannah's passing.

    My daughter was diagnosed with cancer at 3-months of age. She's still fighting at 2 1/2 years old, and doing great! I've started a quilt auction to benefit brain tumor research and have also donated two quilts to brain tumor patients. Sadly, the quilt that is featured in my most recent blog post arrived two days after its intended recipient's passing. This really impacted me in a manner that must be similar to how you felt upon learning of Savannah's passing though you never knew her.

    Also, I've learned so much about "hope" through our journey with my daughter, that I gave her younger sister the middle name of "Hope." While we hope for a cure in this life, our hope is ultimately in Christ and in life eternal with him.

    Blessings to you and your quilt ministry!

    Lauren (over at www.charlottesgraceforacure.blogspot.com)

  3. Sarah, thank you for the beautiful story of Savannah Hope...and thank you for pouring your heart and time into those that need and deserve the love and respect... Hugs, Karen

  4. Messages were certainly being sent to you from somewhere. Such a sad but touching story, thank you for sharing you story with us. x

  5. oh my! I just gave a quilt to a teenager dealing with cancer. I made it before I knew who I was going to give it to, but it happened to be in her favourite colours. thanks for sharing this story.

  6. Another example of how God is in charge. HE always knows what is needed and who to get it done for him.

  7. Such a sweet reminder of how intimately God knows each of us. My heart goes out to her family. Hopefully they will see her again someday :-) at God's throne!

  8. What a lovely quilt for a beautiful little girl! Thank you so much for sharing the story! As a member of a cancer family, we truly appreciate it. The more awareness childhood cancer gets the more funding it may get!

  9. Such a sweet and sad story but we are constantly being guided along the right path if only we listen. Blessing for you for all that you give to others.

  10. Such a beautiful story, Sarah. You know, I cried at every stage of it. We are all so connected to each other and to God and His Love. It's stories like this one that bring it home, remind us, make it real for us. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. I am so glad that you posted this story. The quilt is beautiful and it warms my heart to know that it provided her many hours of comfort. The work you do is beyond special.

  12. Thank you for sharing this story...even tho, it made my heart heavy to know such a sweet life was taken so early.

    But, the story also lightens my heart that you and those who work with you are angels here on earth. Your work is like a conduit through which Heavenly Father can send his light and love.

    annie =)

  13. Sometimes I think there might not be any coincidences. Especially when I read your post. Such a sweet little girl and her purple quilt. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Working with disadvantaged children every day is one of the greatest opportunities I have received. Thank you for the work your ministry does! Your story affirms why I quilt for Project Linus. Many hands make for light work and together we as quilters can certainly lighten the hardships of cancer...for the children and their families.

  15. I love how God orchestrated all the details of this quilt to make it so special to Savannah.

  16. I was touched by your story. It is strange how we are led to do what we do. After a cancer diagnosis myself and treatment, we discovered the cancer had metastasized to my lung. I had made a few quilts for Quilts for Kids but wondered how I would sustain my quilting/fabric habit - needed a place for the quilts to go. During the last 5 years I have had 4 thoracic surgeries at Mayo Clinic/St. Mary's Hospital. During one visit, as my husband and I walked around the hospital floors to get my lung working properly, we passed by the Pediatric Infusion Therapy Unit - kids' chemo. We saw a dad holding an sweet little boy waiting for chemo. On a later walk, I stopped in the unit to ask if they needed quilts for the children they treated. Since then, I take 4 or more kids' quilts each time I go for a follow-up visit. It has been my mental therapy, as well as my charitable contribution. I don't know the little ones who receive my quilts but I know that the nurses are grateful each time I come in. The hospital is not a recipient of Q for K. In November, I will take at least 10 quilts with me. It is something I can do as I count our blessings in 5 healthy small grandchildren. It also gives me a great reason to buy fabric (as if I need any more!) - and my husband doesn't say a word about the tubs and shelves already in my sewing room. :-)

  17. I googled "childhood cancer fabric" to see if I could find some fabric with gold ribbons for a project I had in mind for childhood cancer awareness month. A link to your site came up in the Google search. Imagine my surprise when I saw sweet Savannah's smiling face as soon as I clicked the link. I knew Savannah, and I know her family. My granddaughter was treated at the same hospital as Savannah and they were friends when they attended "cancer camp" together the summer before Savannah died. Savannah's full name was "Savannah Hope." So naming your quilt "Hope" was perfect for her. I remember seeing a photo of her with the quilt you made. God bless you.


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