Warriors quilt about survivors

STEUBENVILLE – To Helen Carson, the names and messages scrawled in the 64 fabric squares of the “Warriors in Pink” quilt she helped present to Trinity Health System’s Images Breast Imaging Center Wednesday are the story of every woman who’s battled breast cancer.

A survivor herself, Carson, now a Pittsburgh resident, spent two months quilting the squares by hand.

“It was very emotional for me because I am a survivor,” she said. “There’s one that says ‘two-time survivor.’ Another one was from a wife, thanking her husband because he took care of her. Even the little ones that don’t have much on them are special, because you know it comes from the heart. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t have done a square.”

The squares were individually decorated by breast cancer survivors, family members and friends at Pittsburgh’s Komen Race for the Cure in conjunction with Ford’s nationwide “Warriors in Pink” campaign.

Thanks to the 81 dealerships in Southwest Pennsylvania, Southeast Ohio and the West Virginia and Maryland panhandles that make up the Neighborhood Ford Stores, Carson’s quilt will be on permanent display at Images at Trinity Medical Center East.

“It hits close to home for a lot of people,” said Steve Diomedi, general manager of TEAM Automotive in Steubenville. “Employees at our dealership have family members who’ve had to deal with it. We just think it’s important (for our community).”

Trinity spokesperson Keith Murdock said Images has “the most active mammography services in the valley, and we’re just honored to receive this beautiful quilt.”

“The messages sometimes make you cry,” added Dr. Belen P. Vargas, chief radiologist at Images. “They show the hope and the love within these families that keeps them going and how blessed you are when you have family that cares so much.”

Janet Sharpe, director of Trinity’s Breast & Cervical Cancer Grant Program, said it’s “an inspiration, seeing the names of the people who’ve survived and knowing someone took the time to do the quilt.”

“Ford did a nice job,” she said. “And I love the fact that they do it in conjunction with the Race for the Cure, it just gives it even more meaning.”

Diomedi says the Neighborhood Ford Stores hope the quilt “serves as a reminder of how breast cancer affects so many individuals, while symbolizing the unifying fight to defeat it.” He said the company has donated some $120 million nationwide to the fight against breast cancer.

For Carson, it’s money well spent. She said she’d had “26 or 27 perfect mammograms, then one bad one” and had no family history of breast cancer.

“Everyone needs to know it could be them, and if it is them, they need to know they can make a difference by what they do to help raise awareness,” she said.