Do you know someone who is currently receiving chemo treatments? Infusion centers can be cold and scary places. Give them a handmade fleece cape to keep warm during treatments. Giving a cape is like sharing a hug.
In 2006, Georgia resident Faye Tarsches was hired by a big box store in the Atlanta area as a regional pricing coordinator. While becoming familiar with her job, she came in contact with Kathy, a woman 10 years her senior who lived in Florida. Kathy had a similar position with the company and helped Tarsches learn the ropes of the business. Over the phone, the two women became extremely close friends. Never meeting face to face, the women began to share their struggles, triumphs, secrets and heartaches.
In 2009, Tarsches lost her job at the company, but kept in contact with Kathy over the phone.
“We talked four to six times a day. She kept my head up through some of the toughest things I had to go through, “ Tarsches related.
By this time, Kathy was suffering with health problems. She confided to Tarsches when she was in pain, while hiding it from her family. This relationship went on for years, still never meeting face to face.
Kathy was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and began chemotherapy treatments. She admitted to her friend in Georgia that the infusion centers offered blankets to keep her legs warm, but her shoulders were cold. She also mentioned she didn’t like placing her handbag on the floor during the treatments.
Tarsches had an epiphany. She could use her sewing skills and create something for Kathy to keep her shoulders warm. A simple fleece cape. She added a pocket on the outside to hold a book or iPad. An inner pocket held keys, insurance card and ID.
“I made it out of ivory colored fleece with a mint green pattern,” Tarsches recalled. “Kathy schlepped it around everywhere with her!”
The cape was such a useful gift, Kathy urged Tarsches to make and sell the capes. Tarsches was reluctant at first, choosing to find a more traditional way to earn a living. However, a seed had been planted in her mind. Years went by, and the friendship continued to grow. So did the Kathy’s cancer. After one brief hint of remission, the cancer came back with a vengeance. Tarsches wanted to visit her friend in Florida.
Kathy always said, “No, I don’t want you to see me this way.” As hard as it was, Tarsches obeyed her dying friend’s wishes. Kathy died in 2017. Tarsches lost her closest friend, whom she never saw in person or even hugged.
Tarsches wondered how to deal with this loss? Her confidant, her closest friend who literally took her secrets to the grave with her, was gone. How could she honor her memory?
During her grief, another friend, Stephanie, died of cancer in 2018. She also used one of the cozy fleece capes that Tarsches had created. With Stephanie and Kathy’s encouraging words in her mind, she created Kathy’s Cape. With permission from Kathy’s daughter, Tarsches created the logo for the business from Kathy’s own signature. She sells the capes by word of mouth, a Facebook page, and business networking groups.
Amy, Kathy’s daughter, said, “Mom, is definitely smiling down on you.”
With this encouragement, Tarsches is creating a website, and plans to sell on Amazon.com/handmade. Currently, she sews all of the capes herself. One size fits all. She makes them for men and women, with plans to create a children’s version of Kathy’s cape.
This journey has brought many people with their own stories of triumph over and loss from cancer.
Tarsches said, “Someone told me, giving a meal is good, but you can only eat so much. The cape says to the receiver that you took the time to think of something different.”