Where Quilting Meets Adrenocortical Research

A quilt made by Lisa K. Byrd
One of Lisa K. Byrd's quilts

A University of Michigan staff member found the ideal way to sew in her love for quilts with her daily job. Lisa K. Byrd makes, and auctions off quilts in support of adrenocortical cancer research.

Byrd, an administrative specialist in the laboratory of Gary Hammer, M.D. wanted to make a change, while bringing awareness to adrenocortical cancer, or ACC, a rare form of cancer with an average of between 500 and 1,000 new diagnoses each year.

From the moment patients step in Hammer's office, Byrd offers a calming, soothing presence to help settle any nerves the patients may have.

"Lisa dedicates so much of her professional life to supporting the adrenocortical cancer program and their patients here at Michigan," said Maher Salah, director of development of cancer programs at the U-M. "She's become an integral part of the ACC community, which is critically important for patients and families effected by a rare disease like this."

Shana Weber memorial quilt
Shana Weber Kinnney memorial
quilt / facebook.com

One patient with whom Byrd became especially close was Shana Weber Kinney. Their friendship helped inspire Byrd's passion to give back to adrenocortical cancer research.

Through Hammer's work, Byrd also met a couple, Anna and Mike Rabe, who were interested in donating a quilt to the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Sure enough, Byrd and Anna continued to talk after their initial discussion and decided to start Quilting for Adrenocortical Cancer, or QACC, in 2013.

"I try to make one or two quilts per year for auction and I accept donations of quilts," said Byrd. "QACC has received donated quilts from several local Michigan quilters. [Other quilts] have come from Alaska and as far away as Crete, Greece."

Each year Byrd puts the quilts up for auction and donates all of the proceeds to Hammer and his ACC research. In total, Byrd has donated over $15,000. 

"The long-term goal is to raise enough money to endow a professorship here at the University of Michigan," said Byrd. "The current goal of QACC is focused on raising funds for adrenocortical cancer research and general awareness of adrenocortical cancer for patients and families, while enjoying the beauty and artistry of quilting."

Each work day, Byrd aims to honor Kinney and many others by demonstrating how a single person can greatly impact many lives even after his or her passing. 

"Lisa serves at the front door to our Comprehensive Cancer Center, representing our presence in the international adrenal cancer community," said Hammer. "[Lisa] carries the University of Michigan torch with passion."

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If you want to donate a quilt, mail the quilt to the University of Michigan at 109 Zina Pitcher Place, Ann Arbor, Mi. 48109 ATTN: Lisa Byrd

To support QACC, please click here