Choices and Support – A Letter from Vivika

Every day begins with a choice. Today I choose to be supported.

Dear friends,

Last month I received news that every woman dreads. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. As you can imagine, this diagnosis has turned my life upside down and led me in a direction I was not planning on taking. It has been a life-altering experience from the first phone call indicating an inconclusive mammogram to the last few days preparing for surgery and treatment.

supported by lisa thorpe
I purchased this painting last year during Cloth Paper Scissors' Artists
Give Back fundraiser for The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

I am one of the lucky ones. My health care team is optimistic that this is a fight I will win. I have a wonderful family to stand by me, and an army of friends, neighbors, and even strangers who are making sure I stay calm, positive, and am ready to heal. My colleagues at Interweave have been tremendously supportive and kind. And I also have faith that will lead me through.

The next few months will be filled with ups and downs, but I am sure that I will heal and be stronger because of this challenge.

As I take time off to fight this disease, my colleagues on the Quilting Arts team will be working harder than ever on the magazine and all our other projects. They and Online Editor Cate Prato will be pitching in to write the Quilting Daily blog.

Lastly, many of my friends have asked what they can do for me. The answer is simple: Get a mammogram.

And if you are so inclined, I would love to know that there are prayer flags flying outside in the wind all over the country, made with hope, stitched with love, and hung with pride in support of me and all others who have been touched by cancer. You can post photos of your flags on or on

Best to you,

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80 thoughts on “Choices and Support – A Letter from Vivika

  1. Been there, done that nearly six years ago already. The first few weeks are the most difficult, but I can tell that you are a strong person. Please be ready to accept the help that your friends and family will offer. Then you will be ready to heal quickly and survive!

  2. Dearest Vivika,
    I’m without words, but filled with HOPE as I keep you in my prayers. This is the first day I’ve discovered your blog here on Quilting Daily. Please let me know if there is any way I can be of help. Prayerfully yours, Antoinette

  3. Sending positive vibes from one who went through this eight (!) years ago. You will discover more people, friends, supporters than you ever knew were out there! Remember, forward motion–it’s the only direction!

  4. Set your sights for the time when you will be completely recovered and restored. That time will come and you will be better than before you started this challenging journey. I will make a prayer flag and fly it for you.

  5. Vivika, My hopes and prayers for a speedy recovery are being sent your way. I have seen many miracles in other’s lives lately and I know of the power of prayer and support from others. I just posted a photo of the sun shibori prayer flags I sent you yesterday without knowing of blog post. It must have been inspiration! (((hugs)))

  6. So sorry to hear this, Vivika. I am a long time survivor. I have had breast cancer 3 times. I will hold you in good thoughts and am sending some prayers. You will soon be a part of the big club of breast cancer survivors. Will be making my first prayer flag for you.

  7. This prayer was just passed to me yesterday to pray for another so I will share it with you and include your name Vivika when I pray it.Will also keep you in thoughts when I start quilting my quilt made by a pattern by Sweetwater which is called Yacht club…They are nautical flags but remind me of Prayer flags!
    Bless O God, all who struggle with Cancer. Empower them with hope for each and every day. Provide them with loving and tender care, laughter and the support of love. Grant them courage when they are afraid, comfort when they are in pain, and your blessing when all else seems hopeless, that in their fight with illness they may continue to praise you and glorify your name. Amen.

  8. Vivika,
    Yes! You have my support. I am so sorry to hear that you are having to travel this path. May you have all the strength and courage you need. I’m sending love and prayers to you and your family and hopes for a speedy recovery!

  9. Dear Vivika–My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your loved ones as you walk through your breast cancer treatment. My daughter was diagnosed in December, 2012 and had her second chemo yesterday. As is yours, she has a good prognosis and should make a full recovery.

  10. Good thoughts and good wishes and all hope and support to you. This disease touches every one of us in some way. Fight it hard for all of us! You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  11. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I can only imagine what a shock you had when you received the diagnosis of breast cancer. It would certainly rock your world. You will have lots of support during this time — “ask and it shall be given”. Unless people express their needs no one can really help. Thank you for sharing your need with us so we can help.


  12. Vivika, you have so many people sending love and support your way! Great medical support, great family support, great friendship support=beating breast cancer.
    We all wish you nothing but strength as you go through treatment and move past this detour.
    And the rest of you: do your monthly breast exams in addition to getting your mammogram! Self-exam is the first line of defense in detection! (I used to work in a breast clinic….sorry!). Know your own breasts and then you will know when there is a change. Examine just after your period, or, if no longer doing that, every first of the month. Do it!
    xoxo Leslie

  13. Holding you in thought and prayer at this difficult time. I am a 23 year breast cancer survivor and believe that prayer, my medical team, treatment, and an attitude that would accept nothing but “full recovery” is why I am here today. Take care of yourself first, and allow others to pick up everything else for now. Sending you my heartfelt wishes for strength, courage and that you will find comfort as you are surrounded by family and friends.

  14. 25 years ago my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was lucky, estrogen receptors were good – no chemo, no radiation, just a mastectomy. Her response, “Hell, I never had a lot of boobs to begin with.” She even became a “Reach to Recovery” volunteer for other newly diagnosed women. Ten months later, my maternal grandmother was also diagnosed and she also had a mastectomy and took an oral chemo agent, Tamoxifen. We celebrated the 5 year recovery mark with no reoccurrences in either of them. Fast forward 7 years…and it’s back…this time, a palpable lump. Because she did not want to wear 2 prosthesis in her bra, she opted for a TRAM (Trans Rectus Abdominal Muscle) flap, a procedure in which your belly fat is used to create a new boob. I’m thinking, “OK, if it happens to me, I’ll get the 2 for 1 deal: a tummy tuck and a new boob.” Well, this time, her estrogen receptors were not so good, and she had chemo but did well – hair thinning, but no outright loss, minimal nausea but it did knock the sail out of her wings. Fast forward 3 years: cancer (NO BIG C HERE!) has spread to her lymph nodes, so we add radiation therapy to her regime. The following year? She has a brain tumor, little c-cancer has spread again. As a nurse, I figured it out before her doctor actually confirmed the diagnosis. I am completely freaked out because now, I am going to be an orphan…we are told that the cancer is inoperable and terminal. The nurse in me fights back, “Who said? “ As a former operating nurse, I am challenging everything…this is MY mother. Good news according to her radiation therapy oncologist (cancer doctor), she is eligible to participate in a clinical trial. In the process of figuring out what steps to take, we learn that she also has cancer in another lymph node. Since you cannot have cancer anywhere else in your body, the clinical trial eligibility is gone…CAPUT! So we get 2 opinions. FAST FORWARD. Here we are 14 years later, my mother is alive and well with no further reoccurrences (she did have a craniotomy to remove the brain tumor). She lives independently in her own home, runs around picking up grandchildren from school, looks after her 93 year old mother, volunteers at the church’s St, Vincent de Paul, etc, etc. My mother says that God was just providing her with opportunities for growth! I paray that I can have her outlooks and I encounter life’s little challenges. LESSON: Surround yourself with a supportive network of people who love you, don’t give in or give up, get second opinions. Be Well. I am working and going to school full time, so I no longer have time to sew or create, BUT I CAN KEEP YOU WRAPPED UP IN THE ARMS OF PRAYER. Be Well, Cynthia RFM.

  15. You sound so brave and so positive that will make the difference in healing.
    Thank You for sharing your private trial with (Us) your readers. We all need reminders and I am sending prayers your way.
    Blessed Be

  16. Vivika…

    While I have admired you from afar as a designer, managing Editor and as a hugely influential artist, I admire you so much more now for sharing and asking women to GET THAT MAMMOGRAM… it is easy and fast and so important!

    Sending blessings you way and a hope for a speedy recovery – as a recent cancer survivor myself, my arms are around your shoulder and you are in my thoughts.
    Bethany Garner
    SAQA Regional RepCentral Canada

  17. Vivica, I could have written this post myself. I was diagnosed in February and am still trying to catch my balance. What to set aside? What to hold on to in order to remain “sane”. No big commitments, no projects with quick turnaround, unless they are measured in days, rather than weeks.
    Some days are better than others… and I haven’t even met with an oncologist yet.
    I have learned two things so far.
    1. I have more caring friends than I ever imagined.
    2. I am not alone in my journey. So many sisters have walked this path, and there are many more to follow.
    3. Medicine is at time, more of an art than a science.
    Best wishes to you as you move through this maze. I am certain that both of us will come out on the other side, stronger, wiser and humbled.

  18. Dear Vivika, I’m sure you’ll get a zillion comments like this one, but I’ll send mine anyway. I was diagnosed in late 2000, had a mastectomy and chemo in 2001. I’m still here: healthy, happy, and grateful for all the support I was offered by family, friends, and friends of friends. I wish the same for you. Good luck with whatever surgery and treatment you face. Be brave, be positive, (it helps a lot) and remember all the people who love you. A bit of practical advice: keep exercising. That helps, too! Very best wishes from Elaine.

  19. Know that you will make it. My mother and aunt died of breast cancer, but no longer is that the case with millions and millions of survivors. Both of my sisters experienced breast cancer, but our survivors. You are healed in Jesus name. Amen

  20. I am a survivor–1982. My daughter has lost both breasts and my sister one. It is very stressful and very trying–just keep a finger on the pulse of your treatment. May God bless, things are not always as dire as they appear.Rest, relax, do some Yoga–we will be keeping a prayer in our hearts for you. Rena Holma,Regina, Sask. Canada.

  21. Chai (long life!), Vivika. You have lots of honorary Jewish mothers in this community, making virtual chicken soup for the soul and chanting the “Misheberach” — the prayer for healing. It couldn’t hoit, right?

  22. You will be back! I will make a prayer flag for you and others who are reeling from this kind of diagnosis… Treatments have advanced so much in the past and with prayer and positive encouragement, much can be accomplished.
    Blessings on you and yours.

  23. You will be back! I will make a prayer flag for you and others who are reeling from this kind of diagnosis… Treatments have advanced so much in the past and with prayer and positive encouragement, much can be accomplished.
    Blessings on you and yours.

  24. Thank you for sharing this news with your wide circle of Interweave friends. Know that you are surrounded with light and love. May you feel this support all through your journey to health and wholeness.

  25. There will be a flag flying, outside a stone cottage, on a hillside, in a still snowy, Derbyshire, UK sending hopes and good wishes for you Vivika, and all who are suffering in anyway at the moment.

    Thank you for being so brave as to write this letter and make your cancer public – the more people who are brave enough to do this, the more we can start to see cancer as a now, increasingly, curable illness and not some monster to fear and try to run away from.

  26. You are in my thoughts and prayers, for strength for the journey, comfort, peace and healing, all from THE only one who is the great physician.God bless you and keep you. Draw near to Him.

  27. Vivika, Wishing you success and a full recovery. Great info on using diet to prevent tumor cells from returning at Dr. Michael Greger summarizes latest scientific research findings that are published in scholarly, peer-reviewed medical journals in a series of 3-minute videos. This will be so helpful for you to have knowledge to help your body heal and prevent any recurrence. You’ll get back some measure of control over what happens with your body. Good luck; sounds like you have good care-givers! –Karen

  28. You CAN do it! Welcome to the sisterhood no one wants to join!
    I know – August will be 24 years! God is so good! Every day is a good one!


  29. The emotional stress at the beginning is, I truly believe, the worst part. It is so difficult to apply the C word to yourself. When you really start with the treatment of it and the learning involved, it somehow becomes a little bit more manageable. My cancer clinic experience was relatively positive – breaking everything down into small steps – and lots of education about what was going on at all times. If that isn’t offered, ask and ask again until you get what you need.

  30. My heart goes out to you Vivika. Last month I found out that I do not have breast cancer after mammograms, biopsies, blood tests etc, but that I do have a ‘lump’ in one of the milk ducts and so I am now waiting for surgery to remove the lump. That is beside the point really, the point is that I know what the waiting is like: that absolute certainty that it is and the next minute the same absolute certainlty that it simply can’t be. For me the whole thing was worse (if that is possible) because both my parents plus both my siblings have all had/have cancer of some kind or other.
    There will most certainly be a prayer flag waving here for you and lots of affirmations as I don’t really have a religion. I wish you well for your surgery and follow-up treatment and hope it will not be too long before we see you posting again.
    Live well and know that there are probably tens of thousands of us out here ‘rooting’ for you.

  31. Also been there, done that. Survived–excuse me, thrived- even after a stage 2 diagnosis ten years ago. It will take all your inner strength and faith to get through treatment that can be harsh, but you too will get through this. And you will be well again and the future will be bright again. Besides, with thousands of prayers and good wishes being said for you by all of us, I know your recovery will go smoothly! xoxo

  32. Dear Vivika, So sorry to hear about your diagnoses. I will keep you in my thoughts and in my prayers. It sounds as if you have a wonderful health care team.
    My prayerflag is already in my heart, but I will make one and forward pics of it when done. Many hugs and good thoughts,
    Hannet in South Africa

  33. I value your contributions to my quilting life! Choose positively each day, choose the freshest food you can find each day, choose rest, relaxation and lap quilting’s marvelous meditative aspects! Many good wishes for your quick recovery (my Mom is a 10-year survivor — she’s 89!!).

  34. We are behind you and keep you in our prayers. When you feel “down” remember all the women who are thinking and praying for you Hurry back to us.

  35. We are behind you and keep you in our prayers. When you feel “down” remember all the women who are thinking and praying for you Hurry back to us.

  36. Vivika,
    You are in my prayers as you walk through this season of your life. Obviously, you do not walk it alone. How wonderful to see the support of the Interweave community!
    God bless you.

  37. Vivika,
    You are in my prayers as you walk through this season of your life. Obviously, you do not walk it alone. How wonderful to see the support of the Interweave community!
    God bless you.

  38. Wishing you lots of good cheer, Vivika. You do a lot for all of us, now its our turn to send you happy, cheerful, and healing thoughts. Our best to you! EH

  39. Sending you and all other women with breast cancer my warmest wishes for a speedy recovery. In my closest circle of friends I can count women who have been ill but who are well today. This is a fight you can wil!

  40. I’m saddened to hear the news, and hope you have a speedy recovery. I just wanted to let you know my mother-in-law had a mastectomy in the summer of 1980. She’s still here with us today and doing pretty well at 90. So hang in there, with all the post here wishing well, your sure to be well soon.

  41. Vivika, wishing you much healing love as you embark on this unpleasant adventure – your spirit shines through strong and ready to fight like the Warrior Goddess that you are! I’m almost 2 years down the line from my diagnosis : having supportive friends and family is a huge plus 🙂 With blessings x

  42. So happy to pray for you today and convey to you hope for healing and peace ! Looking past the dark clouds that hover over and forward to the sunshine ahead.

  43. A fellow Nutmegger here wising you the best. I received the same phone call July 6, 2012. Lucky me…I had two different types of breast cancer, with a little of each type in two tumors. My left breast was removed Aug. 28 and I just had my reconstruction April 3, 2013. My faith, family and huge network of friends — and strangers — got me through it. I can’t stress enough that you remain positive and upbeat and find your funny bone often. And have your “pity parties for one when you need to.” They can be cathartic and healing, too. You WILL get through the chemo and its aftermath. I wish I could hug you.