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Triad nurse makes quilts for patients

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- As an oncology nurse, Sally Cowgill has seen people fight one of the toughest battles of their lives.

To make people feel more comfortable, she uses a talent some would consider a hobby, but she sees it as another part of her job – caring for people.

Cowgill is a nurse educator in the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“I noticed that every now and then, you’d see patients who bring in their own blanket, their own quilt just to make the room look better,” she said.

That gave her the idea to start making quilts for them.

She has the support of fellow quilters who donate quilts for this project.

Adults with acute leukemia are the primary recipients.

“They stay on an average of four to six weeks. They’re seriously sick,” she said.

The quilts aren’t usually custom made, but Cowgill and the other quilters do their best to have something for everybody.

“And one of the things I thought about, ‘What about men? Are men going to care about quilts?’”

Neal Dewan knows first-hand they do.

He’s a chemotherapy registered nurse, but just a few months ago, he was the one in a hospital bed.

He was in the hospital for a week being treated for tonsil cancer.

Cowgill surprised him with a quilt.

“They are supporting you, and in that very vulnerable moment in life, it’s very meaningful,” he said.

“It makes me feel wonderful, it’s just kind of amazing,” Cowgill said.

Cowgill makes an average of 12 to 14 quilts a year.

Together, Cowgill and the other quilters in the project have provided 830 quilts to patients since 2010.