BOULDER, Colo. — A local breast cancer survivor is giving back to those fighting the same battle she did.
Jen Willard from Superior celebrated her 48th birthday Friday by gifting handmade pillows to mastectomy patients at Rocky Mountain Cancer Center in Boulder. The pillows bring comfort to those who have undergone surgery.
"After you have surgery, you can't have that seat belt pressing up against you after your mastectomy," said Willard.
Her nonprofit, JWill Pink Village, has been making special breast cancer pillows for the last five years. During the Marshall Fire, the group lost almost all of their supplies due to smoke damage.
Recently, they held their first pillow party of 2022, where volunteers came together to craft the pillows.
"I know what it means to me when I got mine, when I was leaving the hospital. That someone would think of you during such as scary, vulnerable time," Willard said. "There's a lot of unknowns, obviously, when you're diagnosed with any cancer. But for me, speaking personally, from breast cancer, this pillow really was a Godsend to me."
On this special day, Willard also received a sweet birthday surprise during the delivery. Kim Giarratano, who is a fellow breast cancer survivor, recognized the pillows and came up to thank the group.
"Knowing that they went through what I have been through helps me to know how much was put into these. They understand it, and they understand how they're helpful. And the fact that they're heart shaped it, it fits better, but it also means love," said Giarratano.
"This is why I do what I do. I get a second chance at life. And as long as I get to be here, I want to be able to work and have our village grow, to give these pillows and bring more kindness to the world," said Willard.
JWill Pink Village has made and delivered more than 4,700 pillows since its beginning.
"The end goal is a cure and the pillows aren't needed. But until then, we're just gonna keep showing up and doing what we can," Willard said.
To learn more about JWill Pink Village, visit their Facebook page.