When Julie “Bunny” Baker heard the words, “cancer-free” in October of 2017, she knew she needed to do something with this blessing of time that she had been given. It wasn’t until she met with Karen Violette, the daughter-in-law of a resident at Brookdale Pinehurst where Bunny works as a Program Coordinator, that she figured out what exactly that was.
Bunny was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. It was aggressive, but fortunately, they caught it early. With the best doctors by her side, nine chemotherapy treatments and 33 radiation treatments later, she was eventually declared cancer-free. She was eager to get back to working with the memory care residents at the community she has spent the last 22 years in.
When Karen showed Bunny a quilt she had made, she suggested to Bunny they try quilting with the residents. So, they gathered materials and got the residents to work. They were astonished at how well the residents took on the project and how much they enjoyed it.
Acts of kindness like this aren’t necessarily unique. But what is unique is the group making these quilts. Bunny works in the memory care part of Brookdale Pinehurst in Pinehurst, N.C. The residents helping her all have varying levels of cognitive impairments. Knowing that person-centered activities have many positive effects on those living with dementia, Bunny was quick to say yes to try out this project with the residents, especially those that had a background in sewing.
The group donated their first six quilts to the local children’s center. It was then that the idea struck Bunny to donate to the FirstHealth Outpatient Cancer Center; the very one she spent so much of her battle in.
Each quilt is cut, sewn and ironed by the residents, with assistance from Bunny and Karen. Sewn into each quilt is a special saying that begins with, “Cancer cannot…” as an encouragement to the one that receives the specially made quilt.
As a surprise, Bunny was gifted her own quilt with the saying, “Cancer cannot destroy faith” to represent her own journey of faith through her diagnosis and remission.
Quilt donations to the FirstHealth Outpatient Cancer Center began in September and the plans are to continue making the quilts as long as supplies last.