Hand-Made Hats Bring Hope and Comfort to Loyola Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center Patients
MAYWOOD, Ill. â âWhen a person receives a cancer diagnosis his or her life is completely transformed and all of the sudden they have so few choices,â said Laura Morrell, social worker at Loyola University Health Systemâs Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. Thirty-five women and one man who attend the Divine Savior Parish in Downers Grove, Ill., are helping to bring choice back into cancer patientsâ lives.
Led by parishioner Jackie Griffith, the group knits, sews, crochets and quilts items that offer comfort during times of physical or emotional illness. To bring hope to patients at the Cardinal Bernadin Cancer Center they made and donated more than 80 hats.
âWhen facing such a difficult reality as cancer even the littlest things make a big impact,â said Barbara Buturusis, executive director of the cancer center.
The hand-made hats are created in a variety of colors and sizes to appeal to men, women and children. Because a cancer patientâs skin can be extremely sensitive the group uses various kinds of materials so patients can choose which would work best for them.
Debbie Morelli, Loyolaâs clinical cosmetologist, will share the story of the hats while bringing them to patient care areas. This not only gives each cancer patients a special gift, but also a choice and a connection.
âCancer patients can feel alone, but this gift will help them see they are supported and that someone they donât even know is thinking about them. It canât help but boost their spirits,â said Morrell.
All time and materials to make the hats are donated by group members. As they stitch, they pray for the individual who will receive the gift. Before being distributed each item receives a special blessing from Father William Conway, Divine Savior Parish pastor.
âWe know this isnât much, but we pray our gifts give patients strength and courage,â said Griffith. âWe want them know they arenât alone on this journey. We are thinking and praying for them.â
Arlene Richert, master-knitter and huge proponent for the ministry, joined the group as a way to use her talents for the greater good. Her understanding of the need to offer support and love goes far beyond her amazing knitting skills as she has walked through the dark waters of cancer with several friends and family members, including her son and husband.
âI should have started doing this a long time ago,â said Richert. âIt makes you feel like you can do something to help a person in need and that is such a rewarding feeling.â
Richert is using her 50-plus years of knitting excellence to train a new generation, helping many of the novices in the group learn the skill.
âWorking on a project like this puts things into perspective,â said Griffith. âHow different the world would be if we all did something special for another person, someone we didnât know. Weâre just doing our part.â
âOur patients feel connected by prayer to these holy people. We are so grateful for their love, care and generosity,â said Buturusis.
The group also has pledge to make blankets and shawls.