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Young cancer survivor spreads hopeful message through delivery of fleece blankets

Katie Widmar will always remember the extreme chill she experienced every day during the chemotherapy she was undergoing to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was diagnosed with the disease just days after her 18th birthday and throughout her treatment at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, the high school senior was never seen without her blue and green fleece blanket, which not only kept her warm, but also provided her with a sense of home. Following her successful battle with cancer, she created the initiative “Covers of Comfort” to provide other cancer patients with warmth and optimism through the delivery of personalized fleece blankets.

Each December, around the anniversary of her diagnosis, Katie returns to Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Prentice Women’s Hospital, to deliver blankets and spend time with cancer patients. Widmar is joined by her mom Cindy and Dick Frazier, whose wife Marcia experienced the warmth of one of Katie’s blankets while she was undergoing treatment at the Lurie Cancer Center.

During the six-year cancer survivor’s visit on Saturday, December 29, Katie met Matthew Carmody, a cancer patient who was undergoing his final radiation treatment. As Katie entered the room Carmody lit up and exclaimed, “Are you here to deliver a blanket? I’ve heard your story!” Katie, Cindy and Carmody talked for more than 15 minutes comparing stories, sharing laughs and offering words of encouragement to each other.

Katie delivered 75 blankets to cancer patients that day and each visit was filled with the same gratitude, emotion and the message of hope.

For more information about Covers of Comfort, visit their Facebook page.

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Eileen Hammersmith (not verified)
I was at treated at Northwestern in 2009 for having breast cancer and lung cancer at the same time. Like Katie, I have an idea to bring comfort to patients. Many hospitals are now using live music and art projects to reduce pain and anxiety for patients. Eventually, I would like to see Northwestern have an extensive, organized program like at the University of Michigan or Stanford. But, to start with, I have a guitar student and a harp student from the Northwestern School of Music who are interested in volunteering to play music at the hospital. I would be most appreciative if someone could get back to me about this.
Jorie (not verified)
Hi Eileen, I am a recent breast cancer survivor and was also treated at Northwestern this past year. I have started a non-profit called The Arts of Courage Project, whose mission is to provide survivors & their loved ones an opportunity to express themselves through the arts. We are having our inaugural event this March 2. You may learn more about us at www.artsofcourageproject.com. I will be sharing my story on this site shortly, and hope to have all media (like the music of your students) featured at the event. Maybe this will help instigate something through the hospital among other facilities! Best of luck to you. With continued courage, Jorie.
Jorie (not verified)
p.s. Love the blankets!!! What a wonderful idea, Katie. Survivors keep on inspiring every day.

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