Finding Strength Through Stitching
Nadene Karasiuk along with her friends Bev and Laurie are part of a group of ladies that call themselves the “Stitching Chicks”.
“There are a number of ladies that get together at St. Mary’s Academy on in-service days and they use the home-ec room there,” explains Nadene. “They make the quilts for the kids, pajamas, hearts and a lot of different things. All of the fabric and time is donated and it’s all to give back to the hospital.”
It’s a relationship that started many years ago when Nadene’s son Nicholas was just a boy.
“We have a place at the lake and the girls would come out on a regular basis,” says Nadene. “Nicholas was the youngest of all the kids, so often he was out there with us, and they developed a very special relationship.”
Nicholas was special from the beginning having battled childhood cancer.
“He was 3 years old when it all happened out of the blue,” remembers Nadene. “He was quite lethargic and had a bit of a swollen abdomen so we went to Children’s Emergency.”
Nicholas was admitted and diagnosed with Wilms, a kidney cancer that primarily affects children. Nicholas was a Stage 4, and would go on to lose one of his kidneys plus undergo two lung surgeries.
“It was certainly a shock, but you just get on with it and deal with the cards you’re dealt,” says Nadene. “Our experience at Children’s Hospital was really something – they just couldn’t do enough for you. We were so thankful for all of the support. We built our lives around Nicholas’ hospital stays, surgeries and treatments. It was devastating, but we tried to build something positive.”
Nicholas was in and out of treatment for 3 years, and ultimately received a clean bill of health.
“I still chuckle to this day thinking of some or our experiences at Children’s Hospital,” says Nadene. “We used to have IV pole races in the tunnels. That’s actually where Nicholas learned to ride a bike. We didn’t know if he was going to live, and we wanted to give him these experiences. He was 3 years old, had just had major surgery, and was in the tunnel learning to ride a bike. He was amazing.”
Later in life Nicholas struggled with mental illness. Sadly, he passed away in December of 2016 at the age of 28.
When he was about 7 years old Nadene stitched a quilt for Nicholas made out of all of the jeans he’d worn from the time he was born.
“I embroidered them with the year he wore them and as the years went by I added the names of his schools and friends,” recalls Nadene. “I have now moved the quilt from his bed out into a more high traffic area at camp, and it keeps him with us.”
Nicholas’ quilt serves as the inspiration for the quilts the Stitching Chicks have made for the kids at Children’s Hospital.
“Nicholas used to hide things in the pockets of his jeans on the quilt, and we thought the kids in the hospital would love that,” says Nadene. “We also love hearts and so each quilt includes a bright red heart.”
Nicholas was a wonderful man who touched many people. So it’s no surprise that so many friends and family are doing things to give back in memory of Nicholas.
“He was a super person who battled not only cancer but also mental health,” says Nadene. “The toughness he had and the things he did, just blows us all away. He worked so hard, and he had so many battles, yet he always had a cheery disposition. He was amazing.”
Nicholas was a fighter from the very start, and the Stitching Chicks think of these quilts as a way to send thoughts and luck to families that are fighting their own battles.
“Nicholas was treated so well at Children’s Hospital that I want to give back whatever I can,” says Nadene. “Our hope is that the kids know these quilts are made with love and that it provides lots of cuddles and comfort. Nicholas would have gotten a real kick out of it.”
For Nadene, thoughts of Nicholas are never far away.
“I think about him every day,” says Nadene. “His life was way too short for what he had to give. He was a loving, caring young man, who went through so much. I am hoping that maybe these quilts will help some other kids to win their battle. Each journey is different, but you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and do the best you can.”
Bear hugs to Nadene and the Stitching Chicks for helping sick kids feel better.
Nicholas…Always remembered and never forgotten