BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) — A local group of women is putting their sewing skills to work to make life a little easier for cancer patients.
The tight-knit group is known as the “Gang of Seamstresses,” and they’ve been sewing together for a decade doing charity projects. They got the title from Scott Six, who’s in charge of the group Turning Up the Heat on Cancer. That group is made up of The Fairborn Firefighters Local 1235, Beavercreek Firefighters Local 2857, Wright-Patterson AFB Local F-88, and Xenia Local 698 to help raise awareness and provide support to cancer patients.
In 2018, the Gang of Seamstresses came together to help a friend diagnosed with a re-occurrence of bladder cancer.
“I was looking for things to do for him that would cheer him up,” says Pat Cochran. “I told him I’m not going to feel sorry for you but I’m going to be your biggest cheerleader.”
Inspired by an idea on Pinterest, they went to work to modify a shirt with a zipper where nurses could easily access his port for chemotherapy treatment.
“What we do is we’ll run a zipper from the neckline to the arm hole, and it just unzips and it exposes the port. They don’t have to change their clothes. It’s just convenient. They can come in, and sit down, and the nurses unzip it and they start their treatment,” describes Pat. “He wore them to the James Center where he got his treatment, and the nurses went crazy over them.”
That first shirt was just the start. The group has been working around the clock ever since, sewing more shirts, and donating them to hospitals and adult and pediatric oncology departments for other cancer patients.
“We figured we’d do a couple hundred and we’d be done. And no–the demand is there. We’ve gone coast to coast” says Pat.
In the three years they’ve been doing this, they’ve made more than 6,000 shirts. They all do it on their own dime and own time.
“It costs 50-cents to make the shirt if you get a donated shirt, and it takes 15-20 minutes to make,” exclaims Pat.
The group relies heavily on donations.
“We’ve been blessed to have donations of those shirts and money, zippers, fabrics,” says Pat.
Their payout is the satisfaction of helping others.
“Everybody knows someone who has had cancer or has cancer,” says Pat. “We don’t do this for the kudos. We do it because we feel like it’s a service we can provide, and we want to do it.”
They recently received a $1,000 Handmade Heroes grant from JOANN Fabrics to go towards their efforts.
To donate to their cause, you can do so through Greene Giving out of Greene County.