Cancer survivors were celebrated at the Faulkner County Senior Citizen’s Center Tuesday with a donation of homemade Hearts on Fire T-shirt quilts and the recognition of a breast cancer survivor.

Since Mark McEntire started Hearts on Fire last year, the group has helped hundreds of cancer patients with practical needs.

"Hearts on Fire helps cancer patients if they need their house cleaned or their yard cut," he said. "We help raise their spirits and try to just show love to them during their treatments."

When the group had a surplus of T-shirts laying around the fire station, they decided to make blankets out of them, McEntire said.

A friend who works with senior citizens asked if anyone would be interested in volunteering to make blankets for cancer patients.

"When they asked [the senior citizen’s center] stepped up more than we thought they would making more than 70 blankets," McEntire said.

Grace Woodall sewed 28 of the donated quilts. She is a two-time cancer survivor, battling breast cancer in 1998 and 2011.

"It made me more aware of what we were doing," she said.

Judie Burney held several classes at the senior citizen’s center to teach ladies who wanted to participate how to assemble the quilts.

It takes approximately two hours to make one of the quilts, she said. The ladies wanted to make more, but they ran out of T-shirts.

Kathy Wyrick said the 65 quilts donated on Tuesday are the first allotment of more quilts to come.

The fire department provides the T-shirts and materials and we provide the time, Burney said.

Pam McFadden, Svetlana McFadden and Edith Linthicum also donated their time and skills in making the quilts.

McEntire said he is thankful for the Faulkner County Senior Citizen’s Center volunteers who enable Hearts on Fire to provide blankets to those going through treatments.

Hearts on Fire surprised Deidra Porter at the quilt dedication by recognizing her for the work she has done for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and Heroes of Hope.

Porter is a big advocate for early detection. With a family history of breast cancer, she began regularly receiving mammograms at an early age.

Five years ago, Porter was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 37 years old.

"Early detection saved my life," she said.

During her first surgery, a week after her diagnosis, Porter found out she was pregnant after going through infertility treatments to have her daughter when she was told she couldn’t have children.

"To me that was God saying he had everything under control," she said. "Although I had all those obstacles to get pregnant and now that I had cancer, that was my sign that he had it."

After 19 surgeries to date and undergoing chemotherapy in her second trimester, she now has a healthy baby boy.

Porter said she feels honored to be recognized by the fire department.

"There’s a part of me that feels like I don’t deserve it," she said. "There are so many other survivors. When you find out that you have cancer you find a strength in yourself that you don’t know that you have."

Hearts on Fire presented Porter a Solutions Day Spa one hour message and pedicure and manicure, a basket of flowers from Ye Olde Daisy Shoppe and a box of cupcakes from Patti Cakes.

Porter received the first T-shirt quilt made by the ladies of the Faulkner County Senior Citizen’s Center.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)