pay it forward “I found this so compelling I had to share”

Anonymous Generosity: A Cancer Quilt

by  · January 21, 2014

This quilt was anonymously donated to the Dean Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Diagnosis

After I was diagnosed with cancer in June 2013, I experienced first-hand the significant impact a small, selfless act can make on a patient’s life. Among all the generous acts of outreach and support I received, one anonymous gift—a cancer quilt—stood out.

After the initial diagnosis, I went through many tests, procedures and doctor appointments with specialists to help determine the exact type and stage of cancer, and ultimately, the treatment plan. This whirlwind of activity didn’t move fast enough and, at the same time, moved entirely too fast for me to comprehend the enormity of life changes I would face ahead.

The Anonymous Gift

A serious diagnosis like cancer is always a shocking and a surreal moment that is bewildering, scary and numbing. Even with family support, “The Big C” radically and abruptly changes your world. At my first chemo session, in an unsettled state, I was given the opportunity to choose a handmade and anonymously donated quilt.

This generous act made a deep impact on my feelings of isolation and vulnerability, and the unwanted world change I faced. Throughout my treatments, the quilt provided comfort through its physical warmth, and  served as a constant reminder that I was not the first one—nor was I alone—on this journey. It joined me from home to treatment, and back again every two weeks.

The Discovery

I realized, with the help of my cancer quilt, that I belong to a larger cancer community. People beyond my immediate family and friends cared about my health and recovery. Whenever I looked at the quilt, the world seemed warmer and kinder. I found comfort in knowing that even complete strangers were thinking about me and donating their time and good will to my recovery.

In their work, caregivers are compassionate, generous and giving. Their actions are neither about self-comfort or acknowledgement but are performed through true selflessness. And, their actions take many forms. To all those making a difference in a patient’s life, and to the generous quilt maker who made my own cancer quilt, thank you!

Your Health Journey

Have you had an experience similar to this? We’d love to hear about it. Share your story and images in the comments section below or email us at

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