Cancer Survivor Donates Handmade Quilts | News | Loyola Medicine
Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Twenty-Year Cancer Survivor Gives Back by Donating Handmade Quilts to Loyola Medicine

Carolyn Gatenby, left, with one of the handmade quilts she donated to Loyola cancer patients, and Nancy Porter, APN, who was part of the multidisciplinary team that treated Mrs. Gatenby for cancer 20 years ago.

MAYWOOD, IL – Twenty years after undergoing a life-saving treatment at Loyola University Medical Center, cancer survivor Carolyn Gatenby returned to Loyola to donate 20 handmade quilts.

Mrs. Gatenby gave the cotton-fabric quilts to 20 patients who are undergoing stem cell transplants for leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. The treatments are similar to the stem cell transplant that saved Mrs. Gatenby’s life.

“I wanted to give back,” Mrs. Gatenby said. “I’ve had 20 good years that I didn’t think I’d have.”

Mrs. Gatenby recently delivered the quilts to Loyola patients. A card attached to each quilt told how Mrs. Gatenby survived a deadly blood cancer called multiple myeloma.

“Her visit was very emotional,” said Heather Hedlund, RN, nurse manager of Loyola’s stem cell transplant unit. “There were hugs and tears. Many patients said it gave them hope.”

In 1997, Mrs. Gatenby underwent a stem cell transplant at Loyola for multiple myeloma, a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. First, immature stem cells were extracted from Mrs. Gatenby. Then she was treated with high-dose chemotherapy. While killing her cancer cells, the chemotherapy also killed critical immune system cells. So Mrs. Gatenby was infused with the stem cells that had been removed earlier. The stem cells matured into new immune cells, replacing those killed by the chemotherapy.

The stem cell transplant was performed by Patrick Stiff, MD, who now is director of Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. Dr. Stiff has developed groundbreaking new treatments for blood cancers and built one of the largest and most successful stem cell and bone marrow transplant programs in the world.

Mrs. Gatenby, who lives in Normal, Illinois, is a dedicated quilter. She has made more than 100 quilts and is incoming president of the Hands All Around Quilt Guild of Central Illinois. “I love taking fabrics and putting them together,” she said. “I also love working with other quilters. There is a lot of camaraderie.”

Loyola offers a full spectrum of stem cell transplant options. Care is provided by an interdisciplinary transplant team, which includes physicians, an advanced practice nurse, professional nursing staff, dietitians, social workers, chaplains and a clinical psychologist.

Loyola’s program conducts extensive research, offering patients access to clinical trials of the latest treatments.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.