CLEARWATER, Fla. (FOX 13) - Baycare Morton Plant Hospital's sewing room is a throwback. It opened in 1941 and the old Singer sewing machines still work.
Sewing volunteers, working with brightly colored patterns and prints, stitch together comfort items for the hospital's patients.
"I think we put a lot of touch in for people that are going through this because it's no fun," says coordinator Darlene Garland, holding up a small heart-shaped pillow. "These are for mammograms, you know they put under their arms since the bone on bone hurts."
Darlene knows firsthand the pain and anguish of a hospital stay many times over. She was diagnosed in 2009 with stage 3C ovarian cancer. The 77-year-old's cancer has reoccurred seven times in 10 years.
"It's rough, it's rough. A lot of the chemo I couldn't tolerate. But through it all, Darlene pushes on in the sewing room. I'll work in the morning, go have the chemo, come back to straighten up the place and go home."
And still, Darlene doesn't stop. She takes a lot of work home with her, which she admits she probably shouldn't do. "It makes you feel like you've done something really good for other people," she says.
Darlene inspires other volunteers along the way.
"You're drawn to her for some reason and it’s her spirit," says volunteer Charlene. Volunteer Mardella adds, "That's all I can say is that she kept on going, and there is not a finer person that I can think of than Darlene Garland!"
Darlene tries to stitch each day together with a bit of optimism.
"Trying to stay positive is the biggest thing and I've been trying to do that."
Right now Darlene only has 6 volunteers, but in the past, she's had almost 100. If you are interested in volunteering your time in the sewing room, please contact Morton Plant Hospital.