David Pearson is the kind of guy who likes to find fun in even the most serious situations.
While receiving radiation treatment for prostate cancer at Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion, he noticed how peculiar it felt at times to wear only a hospital gown and socks.
So he began to wear outrageous socks to every appointment.
"It was a great icebreaker," Pearson says. "The other patients smiled. The staff laughed. It opened a door to make it easier to communicate with each other during such a rough time."
David Pearson, who wore outrageous socks to lighten the mood during his radiation treatments for prostate cancer, included a drawing of a sock on his square for the Community Cancer Quilt at Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion.
With this in mind, Pearson drew the image of a sock on a square of fabric that will be sewn onto a special community cancer quilt. The quilt combines 20 squares of artwork and words of inspiration from cancer survivors, patients currently in treatment and their loved ones. It will be displayed at Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion from June 7 to 9, to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day.
Marlene Wendel, a clinical social worker at Sharp Memorial Hospital, was inspired to organize some sort of community project after witnessing the strong bonds that form among patients in cancer support groups. Her intern, Carolyn Noack, suggested the idea of a quilt and offered to help sew it.
"Our support groups have grown into places of solace and comfort; people come to be there for each other," Wendel says. "I was looking for a way these patients could come together to create some kind of lasting emblem that celebrates this idea of community."
Patients and guests can see the completed quilt in the Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion lobby during Sharp's National Cancer Survivors Day observance, June 7 to 9. They will also be invited to design mini canvases of their own, where they can express feelings about their cancer journey (9 am to 3 pm, June 7 to 9). Following the three-day event, the quilt will be hung permanently in the building.
Dana Sobotka, who has breast cancer, hopes that other patients feel inspired by the quilt's message of camaraderie and strength. A runner who completed the Encinitas Half Marathon only two weeks after finishing her first round of chemotherapy, Sobotka used her fabric square to share words of wisdom that got her through that race and continue to inspire her during treatment: "One foot in front of the other still crosses the finish line."
"A quilt is made from a lot of pieces coming together," Sobotka says. "Take pieces from your own life — your family, your friends, even strangers — to keep you going. You are not alone."
Patients interested in participating in other art projects can attend Cancer and the Arts, a free class held the fourth Friday of every month at Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion. Registration is required.