Cancer patient sews pillows for others in treatment at local hospitals | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy of Craig Bielik, Ogden Regional Medical Center

Breast cancer patient Lesley Pelka, left, makes comfort pillows for cancer patients at Ogden Regional Medical Center and Lakeview Hospital. Pelka poses for a photo with Ogden Regional Medical Center nurse navigator Lisa Johnson.

OGDEN – Before she delivers her homemade pillows to Ogden Regional Medical Center, Lesley Pelka says a little prayer over them.

“I kind of like to touch the pillow before I put them in the bag and I pray over them to go and do good things,” she said. “I tell them to go and be good to somebody and to provide them with whatever that person needs.”

Pelka started making the comfort pillows after receiving one herself while undergoing treatment for breast cancer earlier this year.

“I was scheduled for surgery and I was very nervous. I didn’t know what the future held for me,” Pelka said. “I had talked to April, who is a nurse navigator, and she told me when I got to the hospital, she would leave her card, some papers and a pillow for me.”

Pelka’s surgery was successful in removing the cancer and she went on to receive radiation therapy. She told the nurse navigator how much she appreciated the pillow, and mention that she knew how to sew and would love to make pillows for other patients.

“My husband and I had just moved here from California and we were talking about how we weren’t really donating and giving back to society. I really wanted to do something with a purpose, so I decided this would be something I could do to help others,” she said. “April said they could use the help so I found a pattern and started to sew.”

Pelka’s first batch includes 20 pillows. They are heart shaped, soft and rounded with a curvature, to help with body placement.

“They’re for comfort,” she said. “For instance, you don’t want to rub the seatbelt against a port that’s been inserted for chemotherapy, so the pillow can be placed over the port so the seatbelt is more comfortable, or you can adjust your body to make the pillow more comfortable .”

So far, Pelka has made around 100 pillows for Ogden Regional, as well as Lakeview Hospital, in Bountiful. She’s also made some for men suffering from breast cancer.

Melissa Chauvin is one of the patients who received a pillow.

“I did get a pillow and it was a tremendous help after both of my surgeries while recovering,” Chauvin said.

Pelka said she will continue making the pillows for the hospital and is happy to know they are helping others.

“I get some pretty fabulous feedback. The nurse navigators are so fabulous and just took such amazing care of me and they still make it a point to come back to me at times and tell me about a patient who really benefited from having one of the pillows,” she said. “That is very special to me. It’s fun and I enjoy it. I want to provide something someone else needs in their lives.”


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