When you are fighting cancer at the Avera Cancer Institute you have the best technology and team of specialists the region has to offer. But as Nancy Naeve Brown tells us, thanks to a volunteer program you are also fighting it wrapped in warmth and prayers.
In a little tucked away room in the basement of Avera McKennan Hospital you'll find a something that rivals Santa's Workshop. The elves are actually grown women worker-bees and they are making magical blankets. Every Monday members from 7 different groups volunteer their time for Prayers and Squares.
Quilter and Prayer Dolores Gauer says, "It's not the quilt as much as it is the prayers. It's very satisfying. It's very rewarding. If you could see the patient when they receive them you'd understand that and the prayers that are sent them. They are blessed and the patient knows this."
What makes this a "prayer" quilt are all the strings. The quilters leave the strings long and when they tie a knot, they say a prayer. Visitors who come to support the patient can also tie a knot and say a prayer.
Dolores says, "I usually say the Lords Prayer because it's pretty inter-denominational. Once I had a patient tell me that she turns the blanket over to have the knots closer to her. There is always room for prayer." "
Gerry Anderson from Sioux Falls was on the receiving end of one of those quilts. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, bone marrow cancer, at the end of 2010.
Gerry says, "I'm a lot more fortunate than a lot of people so I feel blessed."
He's already been through a lot of chemo therapy and a bone marrow transplant and will undergo maintenance chemo at least once a month for the rest of his life and says he finds comfort in his quilt.
Gerry says, "I just wanted to say thank you to the prayer quilters for all they've done for me and a lot of people because it does mean a lot and Avera has been really good with everything else and it's nice to have a keepsake."
Something to hold on to during a time when so many things are up in the air; made with love, hope and prayer.
If you are a patient at the Avera Cancer Institute and are interested in getting a quilt, there is a form you need to fill out. Just call the ACI at 322-3000.
If you are interested in donating money for the program, you can contact the Avera McKennan Foundation 322-8900 www.AveraMcKennanFoundation.org. If you would like to volunteer contact Volunteer Services at 322-7897. They would also gladly take quilting materials.