Residents at Amica Newmarket have come up with a special way to help cancer patients at Southlake Regional Health Centre’s screening centre by making pillows.
It all started when Sondra Vale, who moved to Amica last March, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I had breast cancer and when I went to the screening clinic, they gave me one of these pillows and I thought ‘what the (heck) is this for?’ and she says ‘you’re going to really need it’ and I thought alright. And I did,” Vale said. “It’s amazing how much this little thing helps. You can put it under your arm, you can put it under your seat-belt, it was just amazing.”
She said that the pillow helped to relieve the pressure when she was in pain.
"I was flabbergasted," she said of how much a difference it made.
When Vale found out one of the staff at the screening centre was using her own free time to make the pillows, she decided that once she beat her cancer, she would help out.
Now cancer-free, she is using her love of sewing to create more of the pillows that helped her so much and has got fellow residents at Amica to join in.
Samantha Edhouse, life enrichment coordinator at Amica Newmarket, said they jumped on the idea when Vale suggested it.
“We’re always looking for different ways to get people involved and to give back,” she said. “This pandemic has been really hard for everybody, so to give people a purpose and try to give back again, even if it’s something as simple as stuffing pillows, why not!”
On Monday, Sept. 13, a number of residents got together with three sewing machines and piles of stuffing to fill the pre-sewn cases, which Vale and three other volunteers had made.
In less than half an hour, all the pillows were stuffed and despite one of the machines breaking down, they managed to complete about 60 pillows in just over an hour.
“They love it,” Edhouse said of the volunteers. “It’s easy, it’s simple, and it’s purposeful, so it’s great.”
The fabric they used was all donated from That Sewing Place on Bayview Avenue and one of the staff at Amica had used a Cricut to make a pink cancer ribbon design, which she ironed on to each pillow case.
“It’s going to blow their mind,” Vale said of the designs.
This won’t be the first time she has delivered pillows to Southlake. Previously, they made and donated 70 pillows for cancer patients.
“When I took them, they just were so thankful,” she said of the last batch.
The residents at Amica have also heard first-hand how much the pillows can help.
One of the volunteers who was stuffing the pillows, Pierrette Rumble, had recently undergone surgery on her right lung and Vale sent her a pillow to help in her recovery.
“I was very happy to have one. They sent me one from here,” Rumble said. “Especially if you’re coughing, it helps with the pain. It was wonderful.”
The team at Amica is planning to keep making pillows and Vale said she is going to contact the hospital to see how else they can help.