Meet the 16-Year-Old Cancer Patient Crocheting Gifts for NICU Babies
Tavinya Taylor spent her time in treatment crocheting gifts for babies in the hospital.
Tavinya Taylor was a normal 16-year-old high school student running cross country and doing homework until her life changed drastically in March. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and began chemotherapy treatments just as the global pandemic got serious. But Tavinya didn’t let the situation get her down—in fact, she turned it into an opportunity to help others.
Tavinya has been crocheting since she was five years old (and crocheting is proven to have mental health benefits!), so picking up a hook and yarn was a natural choice. How she would use her talents to benefit those in need was inspired by her cousin, a new mom, who mentioned that new parents always appreciate practical gifts.
Ultimately, Tavinya decided to make gift baskets for the parents of NICU babies at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, in Winfield, Illinois, where she was receiving her cancer treatments. She put her crochet skills to use making booties, bears, hats, and small washcloths for the babies, and filled the baskets with practical essentials like baby soap and baby nail clippers.
“I wanted to make more than a basket and decided that it would be great to give some to new parents who were going through some difficult times of their own and brighten their day a little,” she says. “It kept me busy and motivated through my entire treatment.”
She said being able to help others gave her the drive she needed to stay positive about her own situation. “When going through a difficult time it's really easy to feel sorry for yourself and throw yourself pity parties,” she says. “By thinking about others it was easier to ignore my own hard predicament. Why mourn over the things you can't do when you have opportunities to help others and try new things?”
Luckily, Tavinya’s treatments have been successful—but she has no plans to stop making gifts for others. Tavinya finished chemo and is currently wrapping up treatment with radiation, and is even back to running with her cross country team. She told us that she’ll scale back as the school year starts up again, so the bulk of her baskets will be made on school breaks.
Tavinya and her mom have started a second charitable project—making pillowcases—on the weekends. They’ve donated the pillowcases to the hospital floor that she stayed on to cheer up patients who spend a lot of time in their hospital rooms. Tavinya says that when she was staying in the hospital, a friend gave her a bright pillowcase to keep on her bed and it cheered her up to see it every day, so she hopes to do the same for others.