Local Charity and Quilt Shop Sponsor 12-hour Sewathon

March 31, 2017

Bay View resident Nicole Cerda is the operations/finance volunteer for the local Operation Chemo Comfort and Patched Works, Inc. charity.

Her group is sponsoring an all-day “sewathon” Saturday, April 29 from 9am to 9pm to support cancer patients coping with a significant appearance-related hair loss, a side effect of their chemo treatments.

The goal of the sewathon is to produce a minimum of 500 headscarves that will be donated to infusion rooms, clinics, and hospital units throughout the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Network.

Patched Works, Inc. will provide fabric, sewing machines, and tools. Organizers will supply all meals and beverages. The sewathon will run assembly style. People of all sewing skill levels are encouraged to participate. Volunteers may sign up for a two-hour shift: signup.com/go/cnTG9t.

Milwaukee cancer survivor Minerva Cornejo believes that these handcrafted items from events have a positive impact.

“An Operation Chemo Comfort donation is not just a headscarf or a hat. It represents hope. Someone takes the time to make it and it offers great encouragement and lets patients know that they aren’t alone. And wearing something pretty is a mood booster,” she Cornejo.

In addition to serving as a gesture of support, attractive headscarves and knitted and crocheted hats are practical accessories that may help minimize the distress and psychological consequences of hair loss. Forty-seven percent of female patients consider the hair loss side effect to be the most traumatic aspect of chemotherapy, according to a 2010 study by Swiss dermatology and trichology researcher Ralph Trueb, MD.

“I know from talking to our patients that chemotherapy-induced alopecia hits hard. Women especially are so emotionally connected to their hair. So, when I sew or knit, I’m selecting materials and patterns that I know will make patients feel good, as well as look good,” said Kelsey Lexow, Operation Chemo Comfort cofounder and Medical College of Wisconsin research assistant.

The sewathon will take place during Operation Chemo Comfort’s spring drive, concludes June 3. The drive solicits donations of sewn turbans, headscarves, and caps, in addition to hand knit and crocheted hats.

Milwaukee crafters who can’t participate in the sewing event may contribute to the drive by dropping off finished hats or scarves at Knitting Knook, Cream City Yarn, Patched Works, Alverno College (mary.reese@alverno.edu) and the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital campus (klexow@mcw.edu). These venues serve as year round collection sites.

The group has no restriction on color or patterns. For this drive, organizers ask that crafters use lightweight yarns (bamboo, silk, linen, cotton) and fabrics for summer wear.

At the end of its 2016 fall drive, Operation Chemo Comfort delivered nearly 2,000 hats and headscarves to the Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center on the Froedtert Hospital campus. By March, most of the donated hats and scarves were gone, as patients come from around the region for treatment. The scarves and hats are popular and in great demand.

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