We always say, “Little Dresses changes lives here…and across the ocean.” Well, here’s a story that should change us all whereever we are. A former co-worker, Gail, is one of our faithful workers at LDFA. If you want to say, “I can’t sew”… or “I can’t do it”…or any other number of excuses, you may want to take a look at this volunteer before you do!
Gail’s diagnosis of myxofibrosarcoma in February, 2003 came as a stunning blow since her surgeon had told her prior to the surgery that the tumor in her shoulder was benign. Waking up in recovery, the first words her husband said to her were, “I have some bad news”. Those 5 words began a long journey over the next 6 years, which included another 5 surgeries to remove multiple malignant tumors in the left shoulder and anterior chest wall, 25 radiation treatments, 6 rounds of highly toxic chemo and even a limb saving procedure at MD Anderson in March, 2009. However, celebrating being “cancer-free” was short-lived. The cancer returned within 6 months and this time the options list was short, a left forequarter amputation was the only way to eradicate the disease. Although this was devastating news since she was left handed, the amputation was performed in December, 2009.
Instead of thinking about what she can’t do, she has turned her pain into purpose. Gail has dedicated herself to helping cut out shorts for the “Britches for Boys”, a branch of Little Dresses for Africa, that provides shorts to the boys of Africa as the little dresses are distributed. Although she lost her left arm to amputation, it doesn’t stop her! She gets fabric by shopping at thrift stores, finding good sales, and from family and friends. She fills sandwich baggies with stones to hold the pattern to the fabric. After cutting out the shorts, she then turns them over to her sewing partner to sew them into shorts. Hundreds of children have been blessed by her efforts.
Today, along with her work with LDFA, she is busy taking part in a soon-to-be-released video sponsored by the American Cancer Society about pain management and cancer, volunteering in her community, church, and the University of Michigan’s Cancer Center as a Care Ambassador. Seeing other cancer patients and talking to them about their struggles with the disease and sharing her own experiences, has been rewarding beyond words. On May 1, 2011in New York , NY Gail was presented with a Courage Award at the national event for the Sarcoma Foundation of America. Gail even celebrated her 60th birthday last year by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 14,000 feet to experience the thrill of tandem skydiving.
So…. you say you can’t do what????? Thank you, Gail. You’re an inspiration to us all! God bless you and keep you in HIS care.