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12. “Keeping it Together” Quilt
Brendan Black and Tanya Rubinstein

The quilt is meant to represent the different aspects of illness as they relate to two different FCE families. The quilt is composed of 20 blocks. The four blocks in the center represent the two people on whom this project is based and their respective diagnoses – cancer and cystic fibrosis. One person is a 6-year old boy, who is bright, creative and vibrant, and his whirlwind energy is captured by the pinwheel design of the block and the patterns that embody childhood. The other is a woman, a teacher in her early forties, who stands strong with the help of her family, students, and colleagues despite the fears that surround her. The smaller blocks that surround the composition in the center are various ideas, emotions and objects that are important to the families in the process of confronting illness: anger, money, doctors/hospitals, time, fear, family/home, illness, cure, pain, energy, hope, perseverance, and uncertainty, living one day at a time, death, and love. Taken as a whole, the quilt is a visual legacy of the patient’s experience of illness and testifies to the power of individuals with chronic illness to teach doctors about delivering compassionate medical care.