Inspired by a quilt she made 15 years ago while undergoing cancer treatment, Marie Judd has turned that passion into comfort for patients at Mercy Hospital Joplin’s cancer center.
Judd, a volunteer in radiation oncology at the center, was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer at age 56 and was treated in 2001 at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, now Mercy Hospital Joplin. She recently celebrated being cancer free for 15 years by making and donating 15 quilts.
Patients who receive a chemo quilt, as she calls them, don’t know who donated it. That’s just the way Marie wants it as she has remained anonymous until now.
“I pray every night for everybody who has one of my quilts. I may not know their names, but God knows they have one of my quilts,” she said. “The quilts are not about me. I hear from nurses about how grateful patients are to receive the quilts. That’s all I need to hear.”
Marie estimates she has made and donated between 150 and 200 quilts over the years. Using machine quilting, she can make a quilt in six to eight hours, so she’s spent somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 hours on the donated quilts.
On her 10th anniversary of being cancer free, Marie gave 10 quilts to the cancer center. When she informed the staff she wanted to donate more quilts on her 13th anniversary, she provided 14 because “they told me I had to donate 12 or 14 because 13’s an unlucky number.”
Marie’s labor of love ties back to the quilt she created while undergoing four chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments under the care of Dr. David Croy and Dr. Duane Myers, part of the Mercy Clinic Oncology and Hematology team rated in the top 10 percent nationally for overall quality of care by Professional Research Consultants.
“I made it all by hand,” she said. “It was my favorite color: blue. It’s a special quilt. It’s my cancer quilt,” which she hopes to give it to one of her grandchildren someday.
Marie provides physical comfort with her quilts and, as a volunteer, shares her cancer experience with patients.
“I can’t give medical advice, but I can sit down with patients, many who are scared, and share my experience and give them some comfort,” she said. “I tell them that they will survive and that they need to hang on to God.”
During chemotherapy when patients are weak, that’s when Marie hopes the quilts provide some tranquility during a stressful time. “There are days that you do chemo when all you want to do is lie around. That’s what the quilts are for.”
Marie tries to make and donate a quilt every two to three weeks and hopes to donate 20 on her 20th anniversary of being cancer free.
“I don’t see how people who don’t believe in God get through these treatments. He’s the one who gave me this talent, and I need to use it for Him,” she said. “I’ll do this as long as God gives me the strength.”
For more information, call the Mercy Cancer Center at 417-781-2727 or Mercy Clinic Oncology and Hematology at 417-782-7722.