**This post has some colorful language**
Have you ever had a family member diagnosed with cancer? If you haven’t, I hope you never do. If you have, you might appreciate the fabric I designed and had printed at Spoonflower. (This is an affiliate link. If you buy some of this fabric, I will make a commission.)
When I was 22 my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 42, and the first person in our family to have been diagnosed with cancer. That was our battle cry “no family history”. I learned more about breast cancer over the next few years, more than I wanted to know. Family History is an important risk factor in developing breast cancer, but the two biggest risk factors are on our chests. Having breasts is the biggest risk there is. Men are not excluded from having breast cancer, either.
My Mom survived her battle with cancer, her hair grew back, and she learned to deal with the other side effects. I don’t want to minimize what she went through, but I also don’t want to share her private information. It all sucked, and it hasn’t all gone away. Being a survivor doesn’t mean you get to go back to normal.
After being the first one in my family to have cancer, my Mom got to watch cancer take my Dad, my cousin, and my aunt. It also had a go at my sister, my grandmother, and my grandfather. I won’t even get into friends and distant relatives. We went from “no family history” to a damn novel.
This fall my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer again, this time in both breasts. And because she’s an overachiever, she decided to throw in thyroid cancer too. (The secret to dealing with your mom having cancer is dark humor and denial, at least for me.)
Mom and I have both had genetic testing done for breast cancer. My Mom is positive for a mutation in BRCA2, and I am negative. For my Mom it is kind of irrelevant information – with a recurrence of breast cancer in both breasts, she will be having the most invasive procedure available. For me it means that I probably don’t need prophylactic mastectomies, and my kids are not carriers of the mutation, unless my husband carries it. My risk of developing breast cancer is still a little higher than average, but that just means I get to have mammograms and MRI’s every year. Yay.
All of this is a lot of backstory to explain my rather crude fabric design. I have some negative feelings right now. When I feel stressed and upset, I try to channel my energy into creativity. Well, to be honest, creativity and cake. Sometimes cake first. Of course I will be making a quilt for my Mom, so I know that when I can’t be with her during her upcoming year of treatments, she will still be wrapped in one of my quilts.
I drew out a rainbow of “fuck cancer” on a tablet computer, and I saved it off as a png file. I then uploaded that to Spoonflower.com, and was able to have it printed onto Kona cotton. I was going to use it as the background on Elizabeth Hartman’s Florence Flamingo, but at the last minute I decided to save it for the back. “Fuck” is a harsh word, and if Mom decides to take her quilt to chemotherapy treatments, I wouldn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. She can always flip it over and share the back if she’s feeling feisty.
If you are thinking about trying your hand at Spoonflower, I highly recommend it. It is easy and there are a lot of options. I’m curious to see how it behaves in the wash. There are also tons of talented designers sharing their work on the site.
Here is my first flamingo. Isn’t she pretty? I’m using mostly Alison Glass fabrics, with various greys from my stash as background. Elizabeth Hartman designs beautiful patterns, but when I find myself cutting out 3/4″ squares, I wonder if she drinks a bit too much coffee or something. Whatever she does, she should keep doing it, because her patterns are amazing.