The hallways at the Moffitt Cancer Center’s McKinley campus are not always the best place to find smiles. Nerves and tension are expected when an unknown diagnosis hang over patient’s heads.

The occasional distracting smile can go a long way.

“That’s what it’s all about,” said Shirley Callaway, with a smile.

Callaway and her friends from the Tampa Bay Newcomers stitchery group parade down the halls with arms full of joy that they sewed themselves. They handed homemade, heart-shaped pillows to patients facing breast cancer to help kick off the month of October, traditionally viewed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“Through this, I know that I’m going to be a survivor eventually. I know it’s all going to work out,” said patient Beth Putman, clutching her new pink pillow. “Some days are just not as good as others.”

It’s a reality that Newcomer Eileen Silverwood knows too well. She not only handed out pillows on Friday but she’s a current Moffitt patient who has dealt with breast cancer for three years.

“There is a lot of hope. Don’t feel like you’ve gotten a death diagnosis or something because it’s really not,” she said. “There are so many survivors.”

Mary Farmer went through the same battle in 2012. On Friday, she accepted a pillow for a friend who was meeting with a doctor to see if she had breast cancer. The green pillow in her lap was ready to be delivered after the appointment.

The Newcomers group stitched 100 pillows to give away. The fabric was donated to Callaway by her doctors, Dr. Bruce & Cheryl Landon of Charitable Foundation in Trinity, Fla. Some of the pillows will be delivered to St. Joseph’s Hospital as well.

“We just want you to know that they’re made with love,” she said before handing out more pillows. “They’re heart shaped which means we care.”

The group also knits yard hats to help keep patient’s heads warm once their hair falls out. The gestures were warmly received.

“This makes me want to make more and do more,” said Renee Glassman. “It’s emotional.”

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