Shadow Play

This year I met a young woman, Michele, who lives in Tennessee with her husband and 3 daughters. Michele is in her 40s; the daughters range in age from 19 to 9. Michele was diagnosed with the same kind of breast cancer that I was. Her tumor was larger. In younger women it tends to be even more aggressive and dangerous.

Michele spent much of the year so far having chemo treatments. She started with the same course of four sessions of two different drugs that I had. After that were another twelve sessions with two more drugs. For more than five months she went regularly to the hospital to be poisoned, and still had a household to run, to the extent she could.

Sometimes, especially with larger tumors, chemo is administered before surgery is done. The intention is to shrink the tumor, and in the best cases, to eradicate the cancer cells. Recently she finally had surgery, a double mastectomy. There was good news and bad news in her pathology report. The good news was the surgery had “clean margins,” meaning that the surgeon was able to excise all of the tumor area with a little to spare. Also there was no evidence of lymph node involvement. The bad news was, there was still active cancer in the tissue. All the chemo did not completely eradicate it.

After some healing she will start a series of reconstructive surgeries. It’s a long road.

I thought she could use some comfort while she recuperates. I made her a quilt. At approximately 72″ x 62″, it’s big enough to watch TV under on the couch, snuggling with one or more of her daughters. The block style is named “Delectable Mountains.” It’s a modern variation of a traditional block of the same name. I named the quilt “Shadow Play.” Though dark times can come into our lives, shadows only appear when there is light.

Shadow Play. 62″ x 72″. Delectable Mountains block style. November 2019.


38 thoughts on “Shadow Play

  1. Susan Watson

    Cancer is a devastating condition to deal with but many people like yourself show that there is life after cancer ( I have friends who also demonstrate this) and hope for the future. It goes without saying that your making of this beautiful quilt is a wonderfully kind gesture. I am sure your friend feels your love wrapped around her in the quilt.Best Wishes Sue

  2. shoreacres

    Since I’m not so deeply immersed in quilts and quilting, this is a pattern I’ve not seen before. I saw the zig-zag patterns as lightning bolts, and that certainly is appropriate. Even in the darkest storm, a flash of lightning can illuminate things, and I’m sure this gift to your friend will do that for her.

  3. tierneycreates

    Melanie – what a beautiful and thoughtful gift. Thank you for sharing this and I send this woman thoughts on strength on her journey.
    “Though dark times can come into our lives, shadows only appear when there is light.” – wonderful quote and I can relate during my first year of widowhood.

  4. KerryCan

    Oh, Melanie–this is so “you”–thinking beyond your own struggles and using your talent to lift up someone else! And you got motivated to make a beautiful quilt! I love the blue and orange in this–may the energy of that color combo give your friend the energy to keep up the battle and win!

  5. Kerry

    So pleased that you are back in the saddle again. What better motivation that to gift a quilt to a young lady still fighting the battle. A beautiful quilt and to snuggle under with her children is a wonderful thought. My best wishes that she recovers and keeps strong. Meanwhile, well done you for getting out and about again – lovely to hear you sound much stronger than you were a couple of months back.

  6. katechiconi

    We all fight our individual battles alone, but a hand held out by a fellow soldier is beyond price. You have made her a thing of beauty to bring light in dark times, comfort in fear and closeness when she feels alone.

  7. laura bruno lilly

    What a direct comfort-touch you’re extending to Michele with your quilt…how poignant to go through similar paths at similar times with an unknown-until-the -cancer-brought-you-together new friend.
    Prayers for her and her family – Meanwhile, how are you doing? (not trying to be nose-y…)

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thank you for asking. I’m doing well and done with treatment for now. I’m back to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, hiking and walking with Jim, busy with guild duties, and more motivated to quilt. In truth, I’d like to be a little less busy! 🙂 thanks!


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