AUSTIN (KXAN) — Jen Willard got “the call” on Christmas Eve of 2015. She had breast cancer. The news took her by surprise.
“It was heartbreaking,” Willard said. “I had a sixth-grader and an eighth-grade boy and all of a sudden I was thinking, ‘will this be my last Christmas? Will I get to see my sons graduate?'”
Willard then received a double mastectomy in February 2016 and received a pillow.
“I didn’t understand at the time how attached I would become to it.“Willard
Willard wanted to pay it forward to her breast cancer community she’d grown close to and found support.
“I kept coming back to the pillow,” Willard said. “It was so special that it needed to be shared.”
Willard, a now breast cancer survivor founded JWILL Pink Village. The goal of the nonprofit is to help women with recovery and spread kindness.
Many pillows later, Willard has spread a lot of kindness.
“By the end of this month, it will be 500 pillows just in one month. But since we’ve launched, we’ve given over 2500 pillows.“Willard
And she’s not done.
Willard along with folks from State Farm donated over 100 heart-shaped pillows to the Breast Center at St. David’s Medical Center Monday morning. It is all a part of the Pink Pillow Project.
Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator at St. David’s, Karen Holland said the pillows are a welcome surprise to breast cancer patients at the center: “Everything is so new once you are going through a surgery like this, and I’ve gone through it myself… They love them.”
Holland said the messages on them are important. She shared the sentiments.
“You got this. You’re not doing this alone. We’re here to help you,” Holland said. “That means the world. It does.”
The pillows are meant to be more than a loving symbol. They are a practical gift as well. For example, they can be placed between seatbelts and women’s chests after a mastectomy as well as protect sensitive port sites for chemotherapy.
A PayPal account is set up if you would like to donate money to the cause.