For the past several months, I have worked with the Alta Bates Summit Comprehensive Cancer Center on a custom quilt to display in their waiting room. The quilt reflects the journey of thirty breast cancer patients and is intended to inspire others facing similar diagnoses. On May 25, we unveiled the quilt at a reception at Alta Bates with doctors, nurses, staff and members of the patient community. I am thrilled to present this most special of quilts online today.

About the Alta Bates Summit Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Alta Bates Summit Comprehensive Cancer Center is a top tier facility located at the Alta Bates hospital (Herrick campus) in Berkeley, California. The Cancer Center offers advanced technologies and cancer-specific resources dedicated to healing. Moreover, its staff are competent and compassionate.

About the Artwork and Colors

This quilt includes artwork from thirty individuals who are currently receiving, or recently completed treatment for breast cancer. Patients created images, or put words to paper, to reflect their personal breast cancer journey. Alta Bates encouraged patients to use any media and colors to reflect their personal story. Next, I printed these images on white fabric, and ultimately sewed them into a quilt. Collectively, the quilt is intended to serve as a symbol of unity among patients, representing their common struggles, joys, challenges and achievement, and to inspire and motivate others on a similar path.

The fabric colors surrounding the patient artwork is also symbolic. Pink represents the global movement to end breast cancer. Working inward, the shades of teal reflect the network of Sutter Health medical professionals and staff, and the peach embodies the physical space at the Cancer Center. Finally, the warm red and yellow tones symbolize the fire within as we seek to beat cancer together.

Without further ado… I present, the Alta Bates Summit Comprehensive Cancer Center Breast Cancer Support Quilt:

Symbols of Inspiration

So often, symbols of breast cancer support center on a warrior, headed into battle. This metaphor works for many people, and matches the aggressive treatment that is so often required. However, not all breast cancer patients relate to the warrior symbolism. I love how the patients who created artwork for this quilt incorporated such diverse representations of strength in their squares. In addition, the colorful squares include so much more than pink ribbons. The quilt showcases a range of imagery, such as:

  • Elements from nature, such as an evergreen tree and a blue whale, crashing through the ocean
  • The softness of family love
  • A phoenix
  • Community
  • Self care, through exercise and meditation and the concept of the body as a garden
  • Gratitude
  • Faith
  • Humor

The Making of a Custom Cancer Patient Quilt

This quilt measures approximately 65″ x 65″ and is made of 100% cotton. As with all Quiltlove quilts, it is hand-tied at all corners. It is mounted on an artist’s canvas and hangs beneath a plexiglass covering so as to minimize the absorption of germs. Of course, it is a completely custom, one-of-a-kind creation.

Visit in Person

If you are the San Francisco Bay Area and interested in viewing this quilt in person, I invite you to check it out. It is located in the Cancer Center waiting room of the Alta Bates Summit hospital (Herrick campus) at 2001 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA. The Cancer Center is immediately to your right upon entering through the main door. Lastly, masks are currently required for all Cancer Center visitors.

Custom cancer patient quilt

In conclusion, I will share that it was my ultimate honor to create this quilt with such a creative and supportive group of people. I am proud of how it came together, and the feedback from the community has been wonderful. Above all, I hope this installation brings hope to those passing through the Cancer Center doors on the hardest of days.

Interested in commissioning your own custom quilt? Learn more here. I would love to hear from you!

As always, thanks for reading.


Update from Sutter Health

On June 22, 2023, Sutter Health published an online article describing this special project, the process for collecting artwork, and what it means to the breast cancer community. Check it out here.

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