I became email “pen pals” with Rose in the very early years of being sick, after a mutual high school friend put us in touch. We were both young and driven twenty-somethings living in NYC and dealing with serious diseases. We wouldn’t meet for a year or two because one or both of us was too sick; we lived only a 20-minute walk from one another. She kept a blog called “Cancer Confessional,” and then later when she relapsed, one called “Cancer Carnival.” Her “kid cancer” always placed her on a pediatric wing at Sloan-Kettering, where the walls were colorful and decorated, and there were plush animal-sewing kits. I’ll never forget walking into her room, not thinking she was a crafty gal, and seeing her sew…what was it…a giraffe or dragon. WHAT!!!

We were never able to hang out as much as healthy friends would have, but that email correspondence, which was sometimes daily, was without a doubt, responsible for keeping me going. Sure my doctors kept me alive, and my mom and boyfriend at the time were so very important to preventing me from…giving up in a final way. But Rose understood. She got it. Our diseases were so different in physical ways but in emotional? So similar. We sent each other honest and raw emails about what we were thinking as well as “creative writing” pieces that both channeled and articulated sad/angry energy. Although it wasn’t easy to read or write these emails, I looked forward to them every day.

Today I’m going to New York for a week while Rose is living at Sloan-Kettering and receiving treatment for leukemia, a “side effect” of her past chemo treatments. I cried for three hours when I first got the email written to me and one other sicky-poo, subject line “bad news” and “you are my two best friends with crazy illnesses. I love you both. I think I’ll feel a little better knowing you know somehow.”

I didn’t get the chance to take proper photos, but something I want to do for Rose, with your help, is to crochet as many happy smiling white blood cells in the name of positivity and healthy hematopoiesis (blood cell production). The pattern is really simple:

(Make 2 of below)
With a G hook, ch 2:
Make 5sc in 2nd ch from hook (don’t join).
2sc in each sc (10 sc).
(2sc, sc) around (15 sc). Sl to next and finish off, leaving a long tail on one of the circles made.
Sew together until almost closed, stuff with fiberfill, and continue to sew closed.

To make the furry parts, I cut 2 inch pieces of the same yarn and weave underneath the cell ball so that the two ends are close together. Then tie a knot and do this a bunch of times!

If you just do the crocheting, I’d be happy to sew the face on. You can give them to me in person if you’re in Pittsburgh OR mail them to me:

Alicia Kachmar
1021 Duffield Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Email me at aliciakachmar@gmail.com if you have questions! I’ll write a lengthier post soon…hopefully with some finished smiling white blood cells!