Medina hospital employee creates quilt for breast cancer event

Posted 22 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Sue Cook – Debbie Secrist, Medina Memorial Hospital’s Medical Transcriber, will be making a quilt for this year’s For Women Only event on May 7.

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

MEDINA – Orleans Community Health will be holding its 18th Annual For Women Only event on May 7. The event is a focus on breast cancer awareness for survivors and for all women who should be getting checked for cancer. Approximately 250 to 300 guests are expected at the event.

“Truly, early screening saves lives,” said Wellness Director Cindy Perry. “There is no reason why any woman should not have a mammogram. The goal is to raise awareness for breast health practices. This will also raise money for services for women who are uninsured or under insured that our grant doesn’t cover.”

During the event, quilt squares will be available for $5 each. Once a square is purchased the buyer can write a message using a fabric pen. Local artist Carol Culhane will also be available if the buyer would like her to write the message in a more artistic style.

The quilt is being made from start to finish by hospital employee Debbie Secrist. As a child, Secrist enjoyed sewing, but didn’t branch out into quilting until one day she was walking through the old Lockport Mall. She spoke to the Kenan Quilters and met Gretchen Lang. Lang encouraged Secrist to pursue quilting and to join the Quilter’s Guild.

“This is a passion of mine,” said Secrist. “I love doing it. It brings me a lot of peace and tranquility.”

The quilt will be a vibrant eye-catching wall piece when it makes its home in the Medina Memorial Hospital. The completed quilt will be hung for display in the hospital as a reminder to the community of how important personal health is. The quilt will also be brought to special events.

Employees at the hospital have seen her work before and recommended Secrist to the Community Partners committee. They approached Secrist who agreed it would be a great project. She had saved money she had previously won from the hospital bowling tournament and her bonus from serving at the hospital for 25 years. She used the money toward materials for the quilt.

When Secrist was saving the money, she didn’t have any plans what to do with it. “I didn’t really know what I was going to save it for. I knew it was something special, but then when they asked me if I would be interested in making the quilt I thought this is the perfect way to contribute and give back.”

Secrist says that Lang was the inspiration for the quilt. Lang is a breast cancer survivor and Secrist is using the quilt to show her appreciation and recognition of Lang. Secrist and Lang will be at the event to see the squares being signed. Secrist will also be writing a personal message for Lang on a quilt square.

Perry was very happy that Secrist was willing to provide such an incredible donation. “It’s phenomenal that she is willing to give back for such a good cause!”

Secrist reveals the final pattern of the quilt. The final piece will include 300 quilt squares. She says that it will likely take a few weeks or even a couple of months to put all the signed squares together.

The event will have speakers, Chinese auctions, a 50/50 raffle, wine tasting, appetizers and desserts. There will also be stories from survivors and time will be taken during the evening for survivors to stand up and be recognized. They will also receive a gift as acknowledgment of their fight against cancer.

The evening will also feature entertainment from the group DIVA by DIVA. Their act is comprised of songs, poetry, humor, quotes, and a variety of other performances. The all-female cast includes women from all walks of life with some of the cast sometimes including lawyers, bankers, cancer survivors, teachers and more.

All are welcome to the event, young or old. Despite the event’s name, men are encouraged to attend as well because they are also at risk of getting breast cancer or may wish to acknowledge a person in their life with breast cancer. The event is sponsored by the Community Partners and Cancer Services Program of Genesee and Orleans and also the WNY Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville is hosting the event. Tickets can be purchased by calling (585) 798-9542. Item donations are also still being accepted for the Chinese auction.