They Did Everything But Whistle!

Lazies, I’ve missed you and I’m back! I spent much of December and January embroiled in a family-wide crisis as my dad was diagnosed with a fast-moving cancer. We called ourselves to action to help, poke our noses in, and work together to find the best course of action. Dad didn’t ask for our help. We don’t wait for invitations. As patients, the members of my family are pro-active, occasionally to the dismay of our health care providers and sometimes each other. 🙂

My hubby modeling a hospital gown. Sorry about the mug shot, dear.

Sewing to cope, distract, and help
When it became clear that surgery and some time in the hospital were going to come into play, I ordered some beautiful and fun quilting fabrics, threw myself into sewing and made a few pillow cases and hospital gowns for dad. Sewing was my calm in this storm. Here is my seemingly unamused hubster Michael modeling a gown so I could get a pic.

My gown-wearer was a super star!
When dad debuted the first gown on a walk around the hospital floor, the staff and docs did everything but whistle! They stopped, asked questions, discussed the extra knee-covering length, button closure and easy access at the shoulder, and the respectful overlap in the back. One surgeon suggested the hospital have these gowns made and include their logo.

Free pattern
A nurse suggested I make a pattern for the gown – been there, done that. I used our free pattern for a hospital gown which is available here. This pattern has been online since March of 2005 and has been downloaded more than 50,000 times! This is the first time I’ve needed it. Ironically, this gown pattern grew from my friend Susie’s treatment at the same hospital.

It’s been 8 weeks since the initial diagnosis. The first hurdle of surgery has been cleared and it went better than we could have hoped. Thank you to the excellent surgeons and care providers at The James Cancer Hospital in Columbus.

Dad-friendly fabrics
Finding fabrics to fit dad’s sensibilities could have been a challenge. Thank you to the fabulous quilt shops in our industry for stocking beautiful fabrics and offering online shopping. I found these at The Fabric Shack and – thanks for great customer service and speedy shipping. Here are some of the great finds I picked-up.

Cards, dice and Monoploy

Reach out and give back
My family and I shared stories of what our friends were doing to support and comfort each of us during this difficult time. And at this bright moment of realizing how fortunate I and my family are, I was left with a very sad thought. What about the people who don’t have someone? How on earth do they navigate and survive such a journey? It’s inevitable that we will all face our own challenging times. It does make a difference when you reach out. It makes a difference when you give. Pick up the phone, send a note, make a gift, and spend some time. Thank you to everyone who has done that for dad, me and my family.

With love and appreciation,

Leave a Lazy Comment

73 Responses to “They Did Everything But Whistle!”

  1. Christie Staton — February 1, 2010 @ 9:44 am

    First of all, my prayers are with all of you. As I have recently learned – the whole family has cancer. I’m recovering from breast cancer and a double mastectomy. I’m doing well. But the thing I learned was the value of faith, family, friends, and humor. Sometimes not in that order either. There is no way to establish the value of a kind word, a caring touch, a well thought out gift, large or small (except there are no small gifts when your heart hurts). I thought I knew the value of my friends, but I didn’t until they ran to sustain me during this battle. And my sewing buddies were among the first to surround me. The road isn’t easy, but it is do-able and paved with loving people to pick you up and stitch you all back together. You are about to find out just how many loving friends you have, please count me among them as I pray for courage, and healing. Hang in there girl, Lazy has energy when it’s needed. Love and Prayers, another survivor, Christie

  2. bonita scruggs — February 1, 2010 @ 9:47 am

    My thoughts and prayers is with you and your family at this time.
    Tell your husband that he looks very nice in the hospital gown.


  3. Debbie — February 1, 2010 @ 9:52 am

    I just stopped at computer to side tract myself from worry over my mom’s first appointment today with a breast cancer specialist. To read your story and Christie’s was so inspiring. I am going to face today with hope and a big smile. Thanks you

  4. Jackie — February 1, 2010 @ 9:53 am

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time. God brought you to it , he will see you though it. Jackie

  5. Cynthia — February 1, 2010 @ 9:53 am

    I have 4 friends with cancer. Each have been in the hospital at one time or another. Thank you for the gown pattern. I will be sewing some of these up for my friends. I know they will like them and appreciate them.

    Sending get well wishes to you and your family, especially your Dad…and prayers are going up…

    Thanks again for the gown pattern.

  6. KarenK — February 1, 2010 @ 9:53 am

    I am so sorry to hear that your dad is going through this. My dad had cancer too and it is such a difficult time for everyone. I will be sending prayers heaven ward for each of you. I love what you did with the gowns, wish I had known about the pattern as hubby just spend three weeks in the hospital at Christmas, I am sure your dad enjoyed them and they helped him to feel more in control!! Big Hugs, Karen

  7. Elizabeth G. — February 1, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    I’m so sorry to hear that your dad is going through this. I’ll be praying for him! I love the hospital gown idea. I hadn’t seen this yet and I’m going to definately try this for someone!

  8. Denny — February 1, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    I’m thinking of your dad and your family during this difficult time. I know how hard it is going through something like this. The uncertainty can be overwhelming.

    I’m so proud of you that you threw yourself into making some things for your dad to ease his time. And that you put family first in this difficult time. And I’m proud of your dad that he wore them!!!

    I’ll be thinking and praying for your dad and your family. Keep looking after him. Check in with us when you can. We’re there for you, even if it’s only in cyber space.


  9. Michelle Day — February 1, 2010 @ 9:55 am

    Wow, life does throw curve balls sometimes, doesn’t it? Nice gown. I’m sure it brightened the spirits of all in the hospital!

  10. Penny — February 1, 2010 @ 10:04 am

    My thoughts go out to you and your family, I lost my cousin just 2 weeks ago with a long fought battle of colon cancer. My prayers are going out today! Tell hubby he makes a very nice model and I am lovin the fabric!!!! I am a sure that fabric is a serious mood picker upper!! Take care of yourself to, it can be hard on the family.

    Penny in Chesapeake

  11. bettina elliott — February 1, 2010 @ 10:04 am

    wow, well, i guess that’s a good reason to have been missing….i had noticed, but understand completely. i have made pillowcase before for friends in the hospital, but i hadn’t seen a gown pattern. thanks for sharing & may God give your whole family peace & strength. may God’s hand guide the doctor’s hands as they treat your dad.

  12. Julie — February 1, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    Joan — Thoughts and Prayers!

  13. Marilyn — February 1, 2010 @ 10:13 am

    I thank God, I haven’t had cancer yet. But I do know about being in a hospital and having
    surgery. Hope everything goes alright for your Dad, I know you need all the strenght you
    can muster. You will be in my prayers. God will help you through it all. My prayers
    are with you! Lazy, you’ll come through with flying colors. Loved the hosp. gown, will
    have to make some to have on hand. Thanks. Keep a positive attidue. Marilyn

  14. Libby — February 1, 2010 @ 10:14 am

    Jackie’s comment says it all….our thoughts and prayers are with you. I’m sure your DAD felt proud (even with his shocking news) that his family was there for him and he did have a nice gown. Your husband is a good sport too! You know, you never know when you are going to be in that kind of situation…..never know when we are going to need “that gown”. Thanks………..take care.


  15. Beckie — February 1, 2010 @ 10:15 am

    I am praying for you and your family. I know how trying these times can be I lost an aunt , and a cousin my aunt to colon cancer and my cousin to breast cancer and now the other cousin in that family is fighting the battle of breast cancer. Hang in there. I love the money fabric I have to check out your websites.

  16. Cathy — February 1, 2010 @ 10:25 am

    Joan, your husband is such a good guy!! What a great gown. Stay strong and know that so many people that read your blog are all pulling for you and your family as you go through this with your Dad. Your Dad is a very lucky guy to have you make such wonderful items for him. As anyone who has had a stay in the hospital knows, those gowns are a nightmare!! My prayers are with you.

  17. Denisehyeong — February 1, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    Thanks so much for the link to the child’s hospital gown pattern. Hopefully we won’t need it again, but when our daughter was two years old we struggled with the stupid hospital gowns for children that didn’t really work, and cobbled one together for her second open heart surgery.

    And best to you and your family

  18. Pat — February 1, 2010 @ 10:40 am

    Joan, I think I understand what a family goes through with a member diagnosed with cancer and my prayers and thoughts go out to you and yours. I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer stage III last May and have had several surgeries and chemo since and my husband has been the most wonderful caregiver. Caregivers need praise and prayers. I am trying to get the word out to all women regarding this cancer. It is the one that whispers so women should listen. The symptoms are ones that most any women get sometime or another like bloating, heaviness, tiredness, change of bowl habits, frequent urination etc. Not all symptoms occur with all women. It moves fast and most are not caught before stage III. Go to the OVCA website. And… Women should press their doctors. (I had to go to 3 different Gyn’s to get diagnosed. Thanks for the opportunity to inform and I pray for you, your father and your family. God be with you during this difficult time. By the way, your purse patterns are the very best!!! Thank you!

  19. Mary Ann — February 1, 2010 @ 10:41 am

    Thanks for sharing Joan. I am thinking of your Dad and family too. I have struggled with a couple of family illness too I know how important it was just to have someone pick up the phone or drop a card to open in an otherwise stressfilled day. Lazies, call someone out of the blue today!

  20. Margaret B. — February 1, 2010 @ 10:46 am

    Joan. Our prayers are with you and your Dad so keep us posted and thanks for the hospital “bright” gowns idea- your hubby is a great model!

  21. Josie — February 1, 2010 @ 10:50 am

    You are definately in my prayers.

  22. Pat Hogge — February 1, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    Joan, please know that my prayers are with you & your family. I am one who has been there…done that. I truly understand the difficult path you find yourself on. Your Quilting Family is here for you. Much LUV & Many HUGS!!! Pat in Bremerton, WA

  23. Sue — February 1, 2010 @ 11:24 am

    Your family is in my prayers, hoping for the very best outcome for your father. Awesome fabrics you chose, something unfortumetly needed, but sewn with love, and sure to bring comfort and a smile.

  24. Willa Lewis — February 1, 2010 @ 11:34 am

    I want you in my corner if ever it goes south for me again! Your dad is so lucky to have you. God Bless your family.

  25. Wendy Johnson — February 1, 2010 @ 11:41 am

    Joan, you’ve taken all the steps you can to help your family. I’m sure your Dad appreciates all that you have done to make this time a little easier for him. Your family will be in my prayers as you go through this. You’re not alone.

  26. mary sanders — February 1, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I have been through cancer twice with my husband. Two different kinds. Thankfully, he is in remission now. I don’t know if one is available in your area or not, but Gilda’s Club has been invaluable to us. They offer support not only for the patient in a wellness group, but also for friends and family. Everyone there knows what it is like to deal with cancer, so we all share our stories and support each other as we each go through our journeys with this horrible disease. If there is not a Gilda’s Club nearby, there are other groups like it that provide the same type of support. The caretakers as well as the patient need support from others, and it gives you time to share your feelings of fear and uncertainty. I hope you all can find something like this . Blessings, Mary

  27. bridget nicholson — February 1, 2010 @ 11:53 am

    my prayers are with you,peace be with the family,,

  28. Cate — February 1, 2010 @ 11:58 am


    I am sorry to hear that your dad isn’t well. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Unfortunately for my family I know only to well what a cancer diagnosis can do to a family. In May my sister Rose was diagnosed with Pulmanory Hypertention and right sided heart failure. In June my mom was diagnosed with stage 3b colon cancer then in August my dad was diagnosed with hyper-eosinaphilia. Which is so close to luekemia that is what they thought he had at first. Our family is like yours. If one gets ill the others rally around that person. With 3 out of 5 of us facing life threatening conditions it’s been really tough. So that pattern will come in handy. Thank you for sharing. I will keep you in prayer. Cate

  29. Sharon Phagan — February 1, 2010 @ 11:59 am

    Joan, My prayers are with you and your familey. I lost my Dad in Nov. of last year. But he had been in a nursing home for a very long time. The hardest thing for me was I,m in MI and he was in IND. So a cousin had power of atterney overy him. I just could not get down ther enough to see him. He was 88 . Since this all happened I just haven’t been on the computer much. To much drama in the familey.

    Sharon p inMI

  30. Sherri — February 1, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

    Oh my gosh Joan:
    I am soo sorry to hear about your father. I know how hard it is. Cancer has snuck it’s dirty little head in my family several times. Hang in there and know that I am saying great big prayers from Missouri and sending great big hugs as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Christine — February 1, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

    My prayers are with you and the family.
    Our Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer last summer and had 2/3 of his right lung removed. I went north to be there for the surgery and beginning of the recovery. He and my Mom would not ask for help, partly because they were in shock, and exhausted by the long diagnostic process. They were amazed and so touched at the way their children and grandchildren rallied around them, and for us, the children, it was an opportunity to talk to them and each other on a different level. It is sobering to ponder life without our anchors, our parents.
    Best of luck to your Dad, and prayers for strength and wisdom for you and the family.

  32. quiddityrox — February 1, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

    It is so nice to share our hearts…many people think they are walking this valley alone. I’m my parents care giver, and am supporting my children and grandchildren in this bad economic downturn. Dealing with these burdens are somehow easier to bear when we know we are not alone in doing so. I continue to sit in God’s lap, and recommend the same for you. It is a sweet comfortable place to rest and be renewed.

  33. Pat — February 1, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

    Did miss you and you have my prayers for you and your loving and caring family. May God bless you and yor father as you go through this turmoil. And may he guide the doctors as the help your dad.
    Keep up the good work.

  34. Jan — February 1, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

    As one beginning my second year of freedom from cancer, I promise to pray for your father and for you and your family. I truly believe in God and His power of ulitmate healing (whatever that ay be). Remind him to drink, drink, drink! Even when one is not thirsty, dehydration causes nasty suide effects.

  35. Mary — February 1, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. My son is a medical student at Ohio State and raised $1000 for The James Cancer Hospital in the Pelotonia riding event last fall. I was so proud of him. That is an awesome medical center! (I had hopes of making that gown pattern for my very dear friend Terry when she found herself back in the hospital two years after her initial diagnosis and treatment for Ovarian Cancer, but there just was no time -between hours spent at the hospital and my families needs – and it just went so quickly that every movement was so painful and changing bedclothes was just not important to her….wish I had taken the time to make that gown or two BEFORE her reoccurrence so the early days of that hospitalization would have had a tiny bit more joy in them. Terry made the most of every day that she could, but the disease took her life two months later.) Thanks for sharing.

  36. Mary — February 1, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

    PS Joan!

    You need to tell your husband we need to see the back view – so important with these hospital gowns! You pointed out that this one was modest, which, as someone who has worked in hospitals, I know is RARE — and VERY IMPORTANT!

    PPS – I am quite sure your husband is also quite a bit smaller than many patients. I have not looked for awhile, but does this gown also work for large patients? I think anyone with extra time and fabric on their hands would find this a very rewarding service opportunity – especially for cancer patients who spend so much time in the hospital or hooked up to IV’s.

  37. christine smith — February 1, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    Hang in there! My prayers are with your family, and best of luck to your dad. He’s lucky to have a daughter who knows how to make him smile during a crisis. The gowns are great!

  38. Kris — February 1, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

    Sending prayers to your Dad and your family – so glad things are going well thus far. How lucky your Dad is to receive handmade (with love) things to wear and create a smile during this rough time. God bless!

  39. SONJA — February 1, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

    Thanks so much for the gown patterns. I am printing them out now so that I will have them when the need may arise. I wish I had had them so many times in the past. What fun they would have been when my son spent so many, many weeks in the hospital. And, may you have peace and comfort as you are dealing with your father’s illness.

  40. Maeve Binder — February 1, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

    So sorry to hear of your family’s struggles at this time. Rest in God’s beautiful, merciful peace and feel His love surround all of you in your time of crisis. My prayers will be with you all. Miss you on the blog! God bless all of you.

  41. Gwen — February 1, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

    Hi Joan, I never quite know what to say, but I want to say that I am sending prayers to you and your family that your Dad will get through this illness and have a healthy and long life.
    I love the hospital gown, your Dad is very lucky to have such a talented daughter, and be the star of the hospital with his new fancy gowns. Take care….

  42. Denise — February 1, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    My prayers are with you for you and your family I hope everything goes well for you and your dad and its really wonderful of you to be there my prayers go out toyou

  43. Bunny Vance — February 1, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

    Our prayers are with you and your family. Wishing for a speedy recovery and he will sure look good during that recovery! Love the gown and the fabric!

  44. digna wilson — February 1, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

    well,hubby looks good on that hosp gown…my prayers for you and your fam,in this hard moments .god give strengh to all his childrens and dont let them get discoureged.staying together and praying is the best medicine. god bless him

  45. Elaine Bewley — February 1, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

    So sorry to learn of your Dad’s cancer. I learned the power and comfort of prayer last year as I was care giver for my 54 yr. old son when he was diagonised with pancratic cancer. The Lord took him home in June ’09 and none of his family could have endured and survived without the prayer of friends. We serve a God who is a God of all comfort.

  46. carol — February 1, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

    God bless you all in this difficult time! I pray that the gowns, sewn with love will cover your dad with love & protection. My thoughts & prayers are with you all!

  47. Sheri Minamide — February 1, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about your Dad’s cancer. My family has spent the last 3 weeks going in and out of Stanford Hospital with my Mom, she has liver cancer.

    You need to be with your father…every patient should have a family member as an advocate…the patient’s need someone to ask….”what is that med for?” etc

    Do you know of any patterns for chemo hats? I did a google search…but, didn’t find anything that was appealing…

    My thoughts are with you and your family…

  48. Laurine Amo — February 1, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

    Joan, please add my best wishes and prayers offered to your
    long list of well wishers for your Dad. I know what you have
    been through as our 15 month old great grandson was diagnosed with a large tumor on the kidney. He had to have the kidney
    removed with the tumor all in one, and then had chemo for 18 visits stretched over from Aug to the middle of Dec. He now is doing quite well, and getting back to the happy little baby he was, only a little older now. We had so much help and support, and you do too.
    So keep your chin up, and know that positive thinking helps, prayers, and the wishes of your friends, and lazy family are
    there with you.
    Laurine in ny

  49. Linda ramage — February 1, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers are with your Dad and you – so many of your bloggers reminded you to take care of yourself also.

  50. SewCalGal — February 1, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

    You have a great family that really pulls together. I’m proud of you for taking time to make things to bring cheer and delight to the hospital sitution of your father’s situation. Your father and family are in my heart and prayers. Hugs, many hugs!