Many cancer patients have to endure long grueling hours undergoing chemotherapy administered through a port. Sometimes those ports stay embedded in the chest wall for months at a time.
One Blountstown, Florida woman has made it her mission to help ease at least some of that pain with just a little bit of material and a lot of imagination with her port pillow project.
"You can make one in like three minutes,” said Laura Quintero. “With any kind of material, a little bit of Velcro and a little bit of stuffing."
Quintero and a few friends are spending the day sewing, almost like and old-fashioned quilting bee. But instead of hand stitching, they're using sewing machines. And instead of quilts, they're making port pillows.
"It's just this little fluffy little pillow and it has Velcro," Quintero said.
The fluffy pillow is designed for cancer patients who have a port installed in the chest wall about an inch below the collarbone. A port is for patients who need ongoing chemotherapy treatments.
“A lot of people who have a port, it’s usually right about where the seat belt goes, so you put this pillow around the seat belt and then it's a little cushion between the port and the seat belt," Quintero explained.
It also works for people who have pacemakers, and those undergoing dialysis treatments. Quintero started her port pillow project about nine months ago.
"I do whatever fabric I can get my hands on," she said.
Her inspiration came from desperation. She lost both her father and father-in-law to cancer.
"When my dad died, or when he had cancer, I felt really helpless, like I couldn't help,” she said. “There's nothing that you can do to stop the cancer, but now I feel like I can do something to help somebody who has cancer so it makes me feel good."
So far, Quintero and her Bizzie Bees have made more than 3,000 of these small pieces of comfort.
"That's a lot of sewing,” she said. “And we've had a lot of help."
She doesn't have to look far to find organizations or individuals who want the pillows.
"The ones we're making today go to Impact Breast Cancer Foundation and they send out hope boxes all around the country and they're going to include these little port pillows,” Quintero said. “They've gone as far as Alaska. I’ve sent them to Puerto Rico. Whoever asks for a port pillow, I send them a port pillow."
The response has been overwhelming for Quintero.
"Just when I think, ‘are these pillows really helping anyone?’ I get a letter and it's from somebody who has cancer. And just this little fluffy pillow makes such a big difference and I get these letters and oh I cry."
But on this day tears are replaced with laughter and time spent with good friends making a difference, one stitch at a time.
"I live and breathe port pillows," Quintero said.
If you would like to get a port pillow for yourself or someone else, visit their Facebook page, or if you want to contact Quintero personally you can reach her at email@example.com.