A Quilt Made Of Love

MISSION HILL — A Mission Hill woman is hoping her handiwork will help her son-in-law in his fight against cancer.

With the help of one of her daughters, Dorothy Sylliaasen has made a quilt which will be raffled off to help pay for the expenses incurred by the treatment of Verlin Larsen's colon cancer treatment. Larsen is married to Sylliaasen's daughter, Patricia.

"I would do anything for my kids, and Verlin is just like one of our own," Sylliaasen said. "We try to help them out whatever way we can. We love him very dearly. So I hope it goes over well for him."

Chances for winning the queen-size quilt are being sold — at the rate of $10 for one and $20 for three — by various friends and family members, as well as Larsen Carpet, where the final drawing will take place on July 1.

"I started the quilt last fall, and my daughter Pamela took it over to Indiana for a quilt trip where they do nothing but sew all week long," Sylliaasen said. "Then we took it up to Nancy Zelinka — she does machine quilting — and she's the one who quilted it for us."

Verlin Larsen's battle with cancer has been long and difficult, as the cancer spread from his colon to other organs, taking a toll on his health and his family's finances.

"He's been fighting it for five years and four months, so things get kind of spendy," Patricia Larsen said. "We go to Sioux Falls every other week for chemotherapy treatments. And when he has surgery, we go up to Rochester."

"I've had 109 rounds of chemo so far, and I've had eight surgeries," Verlin said. "I've been in the hospital I don't know how many times. … They took out part of my colon and half of my liver. I had my lungs and liver burned with radio frequency ablationn."

Sylliaasen hopes the financial obligations will be alleviated somewhat by the fundraiser.

Although people have been buying chances for only a week, it's going "real well," she said.

"The last time I counted how many chances we made up, it was 1,950, and I know my daughter Pam has made some since then," she said.

Funds up to $2,000 will be matched by Modern Woodmen of America, and up to $1,000 by Royal Neighbors of America.

Donation jars are also available at some Yankton businesses, and a benefit fund has been set up at Yankton's CorTrust Bank.

Sylliaasen said a benefit like this is something she has wanted to do for a long time.

"Our family has been talking to him for quite a while, and finally they gave us the OK," she said.

"They wanted to do something right away when he first got sick, but he's not the type of person that likes to take money from people. So he's always said no," Patricia Larsen said. "Now we're having hard times with finances, and I guess this is really our only option for right now."

The Larsens — who live in Yankton and have two children, one in college and one in high school — credit the chemotherapy treatments with keeping Verlin alive, but say they haven't been easy for him.

"I've been sick for half of these five years. I'm sick for a week after I have chemo," Verlin said.

"It's to the point where he can't do anything anymore, like working with his hands," Patricia added. "He's out of breath a lot."

"My body is starting to break down," Verlin continued. "I fought it pretty good for a long time, but I'm starting to lose a lot of strength. Chemo is nasty stuff. I wish that on nobody."

After one and a half years of starting treatment, Verlin had to quit his job with the city water department and go on disability insurance.

His coverage is now slowly beginning to "cut out" he said, no longer covering visits to one of his doctors, an injection he gets twice a month and one of his prescriptions.

"They just write another policy and they give me no reason why," he said.

Verlin is now on Medicare because he has been ill for so long.

"I'm well-insured, but some of the expenses — prescriptions are $100 a bottle for some of this stuff," he said.

The Larsens credit their family and friends, as well as other local organizations, with helping them stay afloat.

"If it wasn't for our families, we wouldn't be in this house right now, basically," Patricia said.

"We've pretty much emptied out our savings," Verlin added. "We sold our boat. We sold some life insurance. We've had a lot of people help us, but this (benefit) is really going to help. …

"It's things like that that help you realize people do care. It brings out the best in some people," he said.

Chances for the raffle can be purchased from Kim Larsen (665-2067), Pam Epp (668-0855), Dorothy Sylliaasen (665-7267), Carmen Doering (664-5012), Charity Hento (661-2421), Karen Morales (661-2581), Kristina Kopejtka (665-0124) and Betty Larsen (665-9482).

The quilt will be on display at Larsen Carpet, located at 212 Walnut in Yankton, until the drawing.

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