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Colorado Nonprofit Donates Heart Pillows for Longmont United Breast Cancer Patients

July 21, 2018

Jen Willard talks with breast cancer survivor Susan Gomer, left, and Gomer's daughter Shannon Chiaverini after Willard delivered 65 handmade pillows to Longmont United Hospital on Wednesday morning. To view a video visit timescall.com.

Jen Willard demonstrated why mastectomy patients would need the heart-shaped pillows that her nonprofit JWILL Pink Village Inc. donates to hospitals in Colorado and Wyoming on Wednesday at the group’s seventh donation to Longmont United Hospital.

“So it’s to protect someone who just had a mastectomy from like the seatbelt when you’re driving, or if someone had chemo, sometimes the port for chemo is sensitive, so women can use it between the seatbelt and their chest when they drive,” said Willard, who lives in Superior. “Or I’ve had some nurses tell patients to hug it as they have to get up, because you have to use those core muscles.”

Willard told the crowd in the room decked out in pink hearts that she is 2-and-a-half years out from her breast cancer surgery, although she did not get a mastectomy.

“The nurse handed me a pillow like this and I had no idea why I would need it, and at the time I was driving back and forth to doctors appointments all the time and it was a difficult time,” she said. “I was struck that someone I didn’t even know could do something so kind.”

As she was recovering, Willard said she needed something to do and to control, so she made a Facebook post asking people to help her make heart-shaped soft pillows for breast cancer patients and the nonprofit took off from there.

Volunteers with JWILL Pink Village, Inc. donated 65 of the pillows to Longmont United Hospital for breast cancer patients. The Wednesday donation marked the organization’s one-year anniversary and seventh hospital donation — six in Colorado and one in Wyoming.

The pillows were made and stuffed by volunteers all over the country, Willard said. She still personally writes a note and attaches it to each pillow because she wants each patient to know that they are cared for.

“I wanted to make each pillow special,” she said.

Amanda Badet, a LUH nurse navigator for breast cancer patients, said that the donation of 65 pillows will make a difference to her patients.

“They’ve been in the hospital and they’ve been through surgery and it really shows that they also have the love and support of the community,” Badet said. “And it’s something soft and comforting to give them after they’ve only been around medical supplies and the hospital environment.”

Willard said that anyone can help make pillows — her volunteers range in age from 4 to 94 years old.

Volunteers can ask for the pattern through JWILL Pink Village’s Facebook Page, facebook.com/JWILLpink , and then some even hold pillow-making parties where several people trace, cut and stitch the pattern into the pillow. People ship the pillow shells to Willard, who stuffs and attaches a note to each one.

Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, antonaccik@times-call.com or twitter.com/ktonacci

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