September 15, 2022

Introducing our Comfort Cap Kits

** Portions of this blog post discuss cancer, illness, and grief. If that is not something that you want to/are prepared to read right now, feel free to skip to the bottom, where we discuss the sewing kit. **  SKIP AHEAD >>  

It started with stomach cramps, but that wasn’t so out of the ordinary for my mom. Then a lump appeared on her neck and a week later, we knew it was cancer.

It took several more weeks, and dozens more tests, to finally find out she had Stage 4 cancer and that she was one of the 5% of people who never developed any tumors. The cancer had simply spread undetected until her lymph nodes finally alerted her to its presence.

Because of the lack of tumors, it took another few weeks before we learned that it was anal cancer, most likely caused by HPV, the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in both men and women.

Stage 4 is the kind of cancer that means you will always have it, even if it is under control with treatment. You will never be cancer-free for the rest of your life. It is also the kind that can quickly become terminal. Her doctor said that she most likely wouldn’t make it five years.

At the time, she was 65 years old. She made it four years and five months before she died in 2017.

This is not a story I easily tell. In fact, I’m crying as I write this, and I cry every time I talk about my mother in depth, even nearly five years later. She was not only my mom, but she was my best friend, in a super close, Gilmore Girls sort of way. She was my cheerleader, my support structure, and my teacher. I miss her every single day.

So why am I writing about this story now?

My mom taught me to sew (you can read about that tale on my About Page), and she was the one who encouraged me to open Needle Sharp. She was alive to see the beginning of it, and she passed away one week and a day after the official launch of the store.

Since its inception, her life and her death have been so closely intertwined with my business that it has taken me years to tweeze them apart so I can look at them. And as the five-year anniversary Needle Sharp approaches, I’m finally at a point where I want to her honor her with the very gift she gave me, the gift of sewing.

Like the majority of people who undergo chemotherapy, my mom lost her hair shortly after starting treatment. She’d always had a fraught relationship with her hair – it was very fine and thin for most of her life – so she was prepared for the loss. We picked out a wig together and even had it styled to look more normal on her rather small head.

What she wasn’t prepared for was just how cold you get with no hair. You never really think about it, but hair plays an important role in regulating your temperature, and without it, she was constantly chilly. So hats and caps became an essential part of her wardrobe. Wigs, which she wore out in public, are incredibly itchy, so when she was at home, she had a selection of coverups to wear: modal jersey sleeping caps (straight out of Dickens), wide-brimmed hats for outside, little bonnet-like cloches, and, of course, the ubiquitous baseball cap.

As I said earlier, my mom had a very small head, so not all the hats fit properly or were very stylish. I was still relatively new to sewing at the time and in the full flush of selfish sewing for myself, but looking back on it now, I think about all the hats I could’ve made for her – ones to make her feel special and chic, even while both the cancer and the treatment worked their competing ways through her body.

And though I didn’t get a chance to do that for my mom then, I want to help others do it now.

That’s why I’ve put together our newest sewing kit featuring the Mahogany Turban from Fibr & Cloth. These kits are designed to create comfort caps for women undergoing chemotherapy or any other treatment that may cause hair loss. While not designed for sleeping (because of the internal seams), they are great for wearing around the house or out on errands, any time you want to look stylish without the hassle of a wig.

Because your skin gets very sensitive during treatment, we’ve chosen fabrics that are soft and touchable, natural fibers that won’t irritate or stifle. We’ve also included lining fabric and tips on how to make the caps chemo-friendly so that they will feel good to wear and will add a little moment of beauty during a hard time.

This kit is also our first one with a charitable element. As I said, I want to honor my mom by giving the gift of sewing, and our kits will help you do that. Each box contains enough fabric and notions to create two hats (maybe three with creative cutting). The idea is that you can keep one for yourself and donate the other. Or donate both if you choose.

There isn’t one charity that I could find that accepts donations, but churches, hospitals, and other organizations accept them. And, sadly, many of us personally know someone who may need one. We will also have a blog post soon with more details on that subject.

And lastly, from now until the end of October – which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – will donate $5 from every box purchased to the American Cancer Society.

Whenever I think about my mom, I’m reminded of something I read shortly after she passed. It was in a book about the atmosphere, and in it, the author said that every breath you take has something like 25 sextillion molecules. When all the math of all the molecules in the atmosphere is done, each breath contains at least one molecule breathed out by every human who has ever lived on earth – from Aristotle to Zendaya. And that means each breath I take contains a molecule also breathed by my mom.

So as I sit down in front of my sewing machine to make these caps, I take a deep, cleansing breath, sharing my air with hers, and start on my project to give back.

I hope you join me.

Happy sewing,

Mary

 

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