Quilting Gallery Blog

Join the FUN: Mystery Quilt by Email

Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Heather Spence. Last year, Heather hosted a Mystery Quilt By Email to raise funds for her mom’s stem cell transplant. Now, Heather’s hosting another Mystery Quilt to help another family stricken by cancer and ever-increasing medical bills. I hope you’ll join the Mystery Quilt FUN and help too.

Heather Spence

Thank you, Michele, for having me back again! What a joy it was to be able to share my mom’s story about her cancer and my plan to help with her stem cell transplant. For those of you who don’t know the transplant took place on December 6th and was successful. Recovery from the stem cell transplant is approximately 3 months with near constant monitoring. Thankfully she returned home on St. Patrick’s Day (how’s that for the luck of the Irish?). She is now allowed to drive and has been released into the “wild” again (that is, general public) though she will not be able to pursue gardening for a year due to microscopic organisms that could harm her baby immune system. We have all greatly appreciated the love and support from around the world! Thank you all!!


But the Mystery Quilt… that’s why I’m really here. We had such success for our first Mystery Quilt! There were 81 participants which enabled me to give my mom $810!! That was so amazing to me. I truly couldn’t have done it without you. And now there’s another lady who is in serious need of help.

Just after the fall Mystery Quilt started a new client came to my house to discuss a quilt she wanted quilted for her son and daughter in law. There was a bit of urgency to the job as her daughter in law had been diagnosed with Melanoma which had spread to her brain and lungs (which Melanoma does…so be sure to have moles checked out by a doc!) from her eye. The prognosis wasn’t good.

Well, the long and the short of it is this: she was able to have the tumors in her lungs removed and I believe they’ve been doing radiation and a few other trial therapies for the tumor in her brain. She was meant to pass away this last November but, by the grace of God, has survived in amazing ways! She has even asked her doctors when she can go back to work!! (Her doctor asked incredulously, “Do you really have any idea what we’ve done to your brain?!?”)


But here’s the saddest part of the story. Sandee is young (mid-40’s) with three teenage children. She was working two jobs so they could make car payments and mortgage. And then she got sick. She had to quit both of her jobs. Then the medical bills start rolling in. The insurance/medical group (insurance company that has their own medical facilities and staff that is quite large here in Western Washington) didn’t do a good job with her diagnosis and treatment so she went to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for better care. A couple of months ago the insurance company dropped her as a client. (Apparently they can do that if you go outside their system…ironically, this will be against the new health care system rules when it goes into effect January 2014.)


During some recent research I found out that a shocking 60% of cancer survivors below the retirement age end up declaring bankruptcy. It’s tragic and demoralizing when there’s all this cutting edge care for cancer patients but no real help financially for those who are struggling. The average cost of cancer treatment is in the millions. Did you know that as a normal-every-day person without health problems an average American will make over the course of their life $2 million dollars. It is unfathomable to me how these two numbers don’t add up.

Now, I’m not here to debate people’s personal financial choices, nor do I even want to talk about what the American government is or is not doing.

What I want to share is HOPE. Real live, true HOPE for Sandee and her family. To show that others do care for the struggles they find themselves in. The goal of the Mystery Quilt for Cancer Patients is to provide money to help with their medical bills.

How can you help? What can you do?? Well, there are a couple of things:

  1. Sign up for the Mystery Quilt. You can do so at Heather Spence Designs. If you would prefer I can also send you an invoice but be aware that this will take longer to process.
  2. You can give directly to Sandee by contacting any US Bank branch and tell them you’d like to make a contribution to the benevolence fund for Sandee Adair-Gascoigne.

What is the Mystery Quilt?


It is a quilt pattern but one to which you do not know what it will look like. Starting on April 27th at noon (Pacific Standard Time) I will send out an email once a week for seven weeks with instructions on how to make the quilt top. Each clue is easy enough that you should be able to finish it each week. Should you keep up, you should have a finished top at the end of the seven weeks! This pattern is perfect for the experienced beginner. Keep in mind you would be making your own quilt, this is not a collective project. What you do with your own quilt is up to you!

How much is it?

Just $10! And, all monies go directly to Sandee. I take nothing. :D It’s my way of helping in ways that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

How will I know how much fabric to buy?

Once we receive notice that your payment for the Mystery Quilt has come through we will send you fabric requirements with samples of the fabrics you will need for the project.

Coupons & Give-Aways!!

Yeah!! We’re having giveaways! When you purchase the pattern you will get a 20% off coupon for the Fat Quarter Shop. Isn’t that fun?!? Every single person who signs up from April 11th on will get a coupon code with the fabric requirements. Just redeem at checkout. Easy!! As well, we’ve got other fun bits and pieces we’re still finalizing but I want to throw the words ‘Aurifil’ and ‘Fat Quarters’ and ‘Olfa’ out there. Ha!

Where can I find more information?

There are several places: my web site. Also at my web site in the bottom right hand corner there is a button for my Flickr group. You can check out a few quilts from the Fall Mystery Quilt and some of the fabrics others have chosen for their Spring Mystery Quilt. I’ve got a Facebook group started as well. That too is a great location for chattering about the project. You can also email me if you have any other questions. This is also a great project for quilt groups & guilds.

As sad and horrible as cancer is I also want to say that there is always something that we can do to beat it or help others who are in need. Even ten little dollars can add up to make a huge change in someone’s life.

I look forward to meeting you…soon!! Sign up for the Mystery Quilt here!

Kindest (and healthy) regards,

~ heather spence

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This post was published on April 11th, 2012. Post topics: Charity Quilting, Guest Bloggers, Quilting Events.

6 Responses to “Join the FUN: Mystery Quilt by Email”

  1. Kristen says:

    Boy did this hit home…my husband was diagnosed with malignant melanoma last week, had a major surgery and was declared cancer free…we have lived the fear of this disease and have been very blessed with it not being metastatic..I will be joining this and I will be putting it on my blog to hopefully get many more to join. Thank you for doing such a kind and loving thing!

  2. Wilma says:

    What a wonderful idea to help someone out who is dealing with cancer!
    I am living in Canada… is it possible for me to join this quilt along and if so, how can I make a payment?

  3. Wilma says:

    Please ignore the previous comment about payments from Canada… I just signed up on-line via your Etsy store.

    I am looking forward to this quilt along!

  4. Melissa says:

    Thanks Michele for putting this up, I will talk with my hubs to see if I can quilt along – I love a good mystery!

  5. Robin says:

    I’m in Canada AND I want in too!

    Where do I sign up and pay up?

  6. Mishka says:

    The link above goes to Heather’s Etsy shop. Everyone should be allowed to join. I’ve emailed Heather to double check that it’s working OK.

    Try this link:



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