Quilt Donated to Hospital Holds a Lifetime of Memories

WARE — The story of a quilt hanging on the wall of the waiting room at the Baystate Mary Lane Hospital Regional Cancer Program begins with a diverse group of people, including oncology staff, patients, family members, and an avid quilter, Judith Samson.

Samson, who lost her battle to cancer, was known for her talent of sewing two pieces of fabric together, adding two more, and eventually transforming the pieces into a colorful and comforting quilt and a work of art.

When Samson faced cancer, she decided to use her passion for quilting to help others, so in September 2009 she formed a quilting support group that met at the hospital. Colorful lap quilts completed by the support group were donated to oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy at BMLH. The support group members speak of the many new friendships made and the comfort and happiness they felt in the work they accomplish together.

Samson’s husband, Ernie, joined by her sister-in-law Sandy Selkirk and friends Kati Partlow and Amy Tilburg, met with a common goal that has forever changed their lives. Using the templates and brightly patterned fabrics from Samson’s sewing room, together they constructed a quilt in her memory. Each quilt square holds a special meaning to her family and friends.

This quilt that now hangs in the Oncology unit not only decorates the wall, but celebrates and triggers memories of Samson and the many lives she touched. “I found myself smiling as I touched carefully constructed squares of vibrant colors and patterns that told the story of Judith’s life,” Ernie Samson said.

“While fighting her own difficult battle with cancer, Judith formed our quilting support group to help other patients and their family members cope with their cancer journey,” said Lori Tuttle, RN, program manager of the Baystate Regional Cancer Program at Mary Lane Hospital. “Her incredible strength and courage is inspirational to all who knew her or have been touched by her neverending spirit.”

The Circle of Angels, a quilting support group for people who have been touched by cancer, continues to meet in memory of Samson on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the hospital’s Wetherby II Conference Room. For more information, contact Camille St. Onge, oncology social worker in the cancer program, at (413) 967-2245.