For me, it was attending my cousin Shirley's funeral (ovarian cancer at age 51) and seeing all of her beautiful handwork that was on display around the room. She left so many beautiful heirlooms for her children. I asked her sister/my cousin to teach me how, since she was also a quilter, and we met weekly throughout the next few months and I learned the basics of hand piecing and hand quilting as I did a table runner.
In 2007 I started to practice piecing nine-patches and my daughter asked me to make them into a quilt, and I started working on that. I got my own cancer diagnosis in dec of 08 and I couldn't bring myself to work on the quilt. Can't explain it, but I felt kind of like working on it was admitting I was dying. I know ... doesn't make sense. Anyway, after my surgery and getting good lab reports back, I picked it up again and didn't put it down until I finished and gave it to her for Christmas.
Now I'm working on a quilt (ordered the fabric last week), warm wishes, to make and give to a first-time chemo patient through the sunshine box project (www.fightingcancerinc.org). I'm going to machine piece and either do simple hand quilting or tie it, since I want to be able to make it quickly so I can make MORE for other patients. I'm really excited about it and my goal is to do six this year ... which may be insane but that's my goal and I'm sticking to it! :roll: