North Hills volunteers' quilts for cancer victims 'labor of love'
Three women from the North Hills work together each year to create quilts that honor the lives of those lost to ovarian cancer.
This year's finished quilt will be presented at the Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer in North Park on Sept. 12. Quilts from previous years also will be displayed.
Linda Quigley of Ross first survived ovarian cancer and then breast cancer. In between her two jobs, she finds time to honor those who have lost their battle with ovarian cancer by contacting families that have lost a loved one.
"I send out a letter and a questionnaire to find out the important things about the woman who has passed," Quigley said. "It is hard to lose someone you love, but we turn it into a nice thing that honors their memory."
After Quigley collects the biographies, she hands them over to Cheryl Redmond.
Redmond, also of Ross, then uses that information to make quilt squares that include the women's names stitched in their favorite color.
"We try to include as much information about the women as we can, including the names of their husbands, children, grandchildren and their hobbies and interests," Redmond said.
Those squares of fabric then are joined together into the quilt by Paule Peacock of McCandless.
Unlike Quigley, both Redmond and Peacock said they have not had ovarian cancer or lost loved ones to it. They were, however, moved by the stories of those who have.
"I got involved when a few ovarian cancer survivors contacted a sewing store that I frequented, asking for people that could sew," Peacock said. "They came to my house, sat down and talked. I cried. I was so moved by their stories that I wanted to do this as a labor of love."
Peacock then recruited Redmond, an acquaintance.
"I began making memorial quilts after 9/11, and Paule asked if I could help with these," Redmond said.
Redmond said she was happy to contribute her time and skills.
"I am motivated by the fact that I can tell the story of these women and spread awareness about the seriousness of ovarian cancer," Redmond said.
"It is a terrible cancer, and we need much more research."
Barb Smith, president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, said she appreciates the work of Quigley, Redmond and Peacock.
"It is heartwarming that they continue to volunteer their time," Smith said. "They do it every year and are not looking for any recognition."
Smith said the idea of the quilt is similar to the goal of the walk.
"Quilts offer a warm, homelike feeling. That ties into the comfort we aim for at the walk," Smith said.
Quigley, Redmond and Peacock all said they receive great feedback from the families.
"It is not an easy thing to share information about a lost loved one, especially because so many of the women are younger," Quigley said.
"But the feedback I get is very rewarding. It makes it all worth it."