Evelyne's Story:

A Soft Spot for Cancer Care

Evelyne Hoover’s crafty creations offer comfort at Virtua

While Evelyne Hoover's sister-in-law was going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer, Evelyne made her a soft pillow for comfort. She later found out that her brother used the pillow instead, so Evelyne started to make more.

Evelyne saw an easy solution: make more pillows.

She began to sew soft pillows for her sister-in-law to use during treatment. When she no longer needed the extra comfort of her handmade pillows, Evelyne, 79, continued with her craft. She called on local organizations to see if any could use her pillows and Virtua was more than willing to accept the gifts.

“We really appreciate the quality of each pillow, as well as the care and consideration Evelyne puts in to each one” said Jamie Hempel, a nurse navigator with Virtua’s Oncology Department.

The pillows are given to mastectomy patients one day after their surgery. Initially, the pillows come in handy as a way for patients to cushion the sensitive areas from their operation when they return home and use a seatbelt.

Once treatments start, the pillows, made with soft materials like flannel or micro fleece, offer a place to comfortably rest the arm where the IV connects and give patients something soft and warm to rest their heads on while they receive that day’s doses of medication.

“I’m going to keep making pillows until I can’t do it anymore,” said Evelyne, who estimates she has made 500 pillows.

Evelyne, a Michigan native and retired teacher, also sews quilts for wounded military and has given pillows for patients at Brightview Nursing Home. Evelyne wrote the stuffing manufacturer regarding the good quality of their polyfil--they responded by supplying her with enough material to craft about 140 pillows.

“I opened the box and it exploded,” she said. “I’ve never seen so much. It filled trash bag after trash bag.”

Polyfill can be added right beside kindness and generosity on the list of things Evelyne Hoover will never run out of.


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