Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at making a pocket for Melanie Testa's pocket project in support of breast cancer survivors who choose not to have reconstructive surgery after a masectomy. When I was in high school, I found out my mom was going in for breast cancer surgery when a nurse called the house and, thinking I was my mother, accidentally told me everything was set for surgery the next day. Let me just tell you, that is NOT the way to find out about your mom's cancer.
In any event, my mom chose to have a lumpectomy at that time and did so twice again. Fortunately, her surgeries were successful and she's one of the most active and healthy women of 76 you could ever meet. I am thankful.
Given my mom's choice, I had asked Melanie if I could still participate in her project (she's hoping to gather 1,000 pockets to symbolize the myriad of women who make the "flattie" choice) and she said "Absolutely".
I didn't have a clue what I wanted to make -- Melanie's pockets are lovely and Deborah Boschert's are so conceptually thoughtful. Ultimately, I just grabbed a piece of my gelatin plate printed fabric, cut it out using the pattern Melanie provides, and started stitching.
I wasn't too pleased with how the pocket looked after it was sewn together; I also didn't immediately have any good ideas to perk it up. I picked the pocket up again today after realizing that one of the most emotionally difficult things my mom had to contend with after her surgery was her doctor's advice to cut caffeine out of her diet. This was an enormous change. As I was growing up, my mom forever had a cup of coffee in her hand or just within reach. She'd been drinking coffee since she was ten. Stopping by at a friend's house for an afternoon of coffee and cake was part of her European tradition. Coffee represented so many things for her including home, fellowship, and a nice relaxing afternoon.
To commemorate this change in her lifestyle, I went back to my pocket and added some hand stitched Xs (as in "crossing out the coffee option") and machine sketched a coffee cup. The latter's not as crisp as my pencil drawing but hey, this one might have more personality .... and my message is personal.
If I have time, I'd like to make more pockets to honor each of my mom's surgeries, but I'll plan those out a bit more than I did this one. For one thing, decorate the front of the pocket BEFORE you stitch the thing together. I didn't, and that was a challenge. I also won't try to machine sketch on a wee bit of fabric again -- that's not a good idea, either.
If you or a loved one has been affected by breast cancer, you may want to participate in Melanie's project. You can read about it on her blog or on her Facebook page.