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Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project’s Online Auction Begins Oct. 26

Woman Can Do

Funds benefit ovarian and uterine cancer research programs at MD Anderson

By Angela C. Crissman

During September and October, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will be transformed into a sea of color and artistry with a display of quilts from the Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project. Many quilts symbolize the courage and strength of women and families whose lives have been affected by ovarian cancer. With the help of quilters from all over the world, this project raises awareness and funds for all gynecologic cancers.

The Quilt Project began in 2002 with quilters from MD Anderson’s Ovarian Cancer Support Group and the community donating blocks to make quilts. For many, this was a therapeutic way to help provide awareness or remember a loved one. All those touched by ovarian cancer, including survivors, family members and friends, were invited to contribute a block. Catherine Ellison designed the teal ribbon quilt block. Quilters and quilt shops from across the country, as well as local quilt guilds, created and donated hundreds of quilt blocks and entire quilts. The quilts were displayed at the International Quilt Festival Houston to help educate the public about the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

The Quilt Project has grown each year with the help and hard work of countless volunteers. In 2008, the project’s momentum continued and an online auction was established. Due to the success of the first online quilt auction, which featured 68 quilts and raised $11,440, a second online quilt auction was hosted in October of 2009, which raised $25,120 and included 107 quilts.

The Quilt Project and 2011 Online Quilt Auction have expanded its support of gynecologic cancer awareness by benefiting both the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program and the Uterine Cancer Research Program at MD Anderson. Through innovative research, these programs aim to develop effective screening methods and ultimately a cure for ovarian and uterine cancers. The online auction also raises awareness for cervical cancer and the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic predisposition, which increases the risk for developing both ovarian and breast cancer.

This year, Cherrywood Fabrics has partnered with the 2011 Online Quilt Auction, providing a gradation of hand-dyed teals. A challenge was established to create original wall hangings using these fabrics. Twenty spectacular quilts were made and donated — several from published art quilters. The Cherrywood Challenge has a particularly special meaning for Cherrywood Fabrics designer Karla Overland, whose company’s founder, Dawn Hall, lost her battle with ovarian cancer.

This collection will be on display during September in recognition of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. These quilts will be featured Sept. 14-16 at the Park of the Main Hospital (1515 Holcombe Blvd.). Employees, patients and guests will be given a ballot to vote for their favorite Cherrywood Challenge quilt.

To further promote the Online Quilt Auction, an additional selection of quilts of varied sizes will be displayed at the Park of the Main Hospital (1515 Holcombe Blvd.) and also the Mays Clinic (1220 Holcombe Blvd.) from Oct. 26-28. Bidders are encouraged to see the quilts on display.

The 2011 Online Quilt Auction runs Oct. 26 through Nov. 9 and will include all quilts. The auction is open to anyone interested in supporting this cause. Help spread the word and become a friend on Facebook and get ready to bid by visiting ovarianquilt.com.

There is a unique message and inspiring story behind each of the 150 quilts donated for this year’s project. Steps Lighting the Way, donated by Debbie Shelton and Gail Rowland of The Woodlands Area Quilt Guild, was made in honor of a woman who recently lost her battle with ovarian cancer. The quilt symbolizes how her faith gave her the strength to be a light in the world by being courageous, selfless and making others laugh. Venetta Morger, a strong supporter of the online quilt auction, is touched that her guild is honoring her sister with such a beautiful quilt.

In order to prepare for the auction, Jill and Logan Rimes, owners of Sunflower Quilts, organized more than 50 quilters from Houston and the surrounding area to gather for an afternoon of sewing in September 2010. Volunteers created quilt tops from donated quilt blocks and yards of fabric donated by Moda Fabrics. More than 70 quilt tops were created.

Quilters were encouraged to incorporate gynecologic awareness colors into their designs: teal for ovarian cancer; peach for uterine cancer; teal and pink for ovarian/breast cancer; and teal and white for cervical cancer.

With so many lives touched in some way by cancer, it’s no surprise that interest in this project continues to grow. “We are already receiving posts on Facebook from quilters who want to donate quilts for the next auction in 2013,” says Pamela Weems, program manager of Community Relations and Development for the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine.

“The Quilt Project would not be possible without the generous support of so many quilters,” says Sue Rimes, clinical nurse in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine. “This year’s goal is to raise $50,000 and it is attainable. With international quilts, art quilts and quilts of all sizes, the quilting community and patient population here at MD Anderson will find a number of quilts they cannot resist,” says Rimes.

Visit the MD Anderson Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project booth at the upcoming International Quilt Festival Houston scheduled for Nov. 3-6 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Awareness quilts can also be loaned to groups that want to educate women about ovarian cancer and other gynecologic cancers. For more information, call Community Relations in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at 713-792-2765 or e-mail gynonccommunityrelations@mdanderson.org.

Did you know….

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers? Each year, about 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 15,000 women in the United States will die. There is no screening or early detection test available. Symptoms are subtle, which results in only 25 percent of ovarian tumors being detected before they have progressed to an advanced stage. For additional information on ovarian cancer symptoms and risk factors, visit mdanderson.org/diseases/ovarian.

Flowers for Granny

The Survivor, made and donated by quilt artist Carolyn Crump, features a mother and daughter with beaded necklace and earrings.

Francie’s Ribbon of Hope

Sprint for Life by Hilary Gooding of the United Kingdom is part of the Cherrywood Challenge.

Empire Blast Off

Steps Lighting the Way was made in honor of a woman who lost her battle with ovarian cancer.

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