Cancer Survivor Delivers Hope and Comfort in the Form of Blankets

Northwestern Medicine
Cancer Care/Oncology January 03, 2014
Northwestern Medicine Patient Katie WidmarAside from her mother, Katie Widmar was once asked what she couldn’t live without while she was undergoing treatment for cancer, and without hesitation she answered, “My blanket.” Katie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December, 2005, only a few days after turning 18 years-old. Her treatments at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University required Katie to spend a lot of time away from her home in Dubuque, Iowa, but she would always keep a fleece blanket with her as a source of comfort and warmth.

“It was something I could keep that was soft and warm, and I took it everywhere with me,” said Katie. The blanket not only provided her with a way of being more comfortable physically, but also became a feeling of home that she could connect with whenever she needed.

With her own treatment successfully behind her, Katie and her mother, Cindy, created Covers of Comfort, a non-profit organization that creates handmade fleece blankets to provide warmth and compassion to cancer patients spending their holidays in the hospital.

Before each blanket is given, Katie takes the time to speak with every patient and asks them their favorite color and what their interests are so she and her mother can find a blanket to match. On December 27, Katie and Cindy returned to the inpatient oncology floors at Northwestern Memorial’s Prentice Women’s Hospital for the seventh December in a row to deliver blankets to cancer patients since they first began in 2007.

“Are you serious?” exclaimed cancer patient Candace Bolen after receiving a blue blanket with images of sewing needles and thread from Katie. “This is fabulous, thank you!” The two spoke for a while longer and after hearing about Katie’s experience with cancer, Candace thanked her again and said that her story gave her “some hope and courage.”

Each year Covers of Comfort collects hundreds of blankets made for them by groups at retirement centers, schools and companies, as well as by many individuals and families. Last year they collected 488 blankets and this year they were able to collect close to 700.

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