Seam­stress has can­cer tied to her apron strings

Sa­tur­day sale be­ne­fits Pal­lia­tive Care Home

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

When life hands you le­mons, we’re told to make le­mo­nade. In Lin­da Karam Au­ger’s case, when life han­ded her the bit­ter le­mon of can­cer, she de­ci­ded to make aprons ins­tead.

Karam Au­ger, 61, of Hud­son was diag­no­sed with breast can­cer in 2004. Four years la­ter, she lear­ned the can­cer had me­tas­ta­si­zed, sprea­ding to her bones, brain and lungs. Treat­ments in­clu­ded brain sur­ge­ry and ra­dia­tion, and her doc­tors kept a close eye on a lung mass.

And while such events would be ex­cuse enough to curl up in a ball of self-pi­ty and sor­row, Karam Au­ger op­ted to ignore a gro­wing list of things she could not do and fo­cus on what she could.

A de­si­gner/de­co­ra­tor and seam­stress spe­cia­li­zing in cus­tom-made win­dow treat­ments, Karam Au­ger had run a th­ri­ving bu­si­ness for al­most 20 years; five of them out of a Hud­son bou­tique.

When can­cer came back the se­cond time, ho­we­ver, she sold the buil­ding and mo­ved her bu­si­ness in­to a home sho­wroom and works­pace.

And though it conti­nued to thrive, she was for­ced to close her doors for good when her health took ano­ther pre­ci­pi­tous turn for the worse.

“I could not use my right side as well as I used to be­cause of the brain tu­mor, and my hand co­or­di­na­tion was not the same,” Karam Au­ger ex­plai­ned.

Can­cer had al­so rob­bed her of the abi­li­ty to perform eve­ry­day tasks such as dri­ving, the abi­li­ty to tra­vel, so­cia­li­zing with friends or going out in the com­mu­ni­ty since she was of­ten left ex­haus­ted by che­mo­the­ra­py treat­ments.

“You can’t do stairs, or sit long. When you have can­cer, your life ra­di­cal­ly changes and you can’t do ma­ny of the things people take for gran­ted,” said the feis­ty, per­so­nable Karam Au­ger.

Not willing to give up

Des­pite the li­mi­ta­tions, she vo­wed to one day re­turn to her craft. She says pas­sing the time rea­ding books, wat­ching day­time te­le­vi­sion and just han­ging around the house didn’t do it for her.

“Du­ring the past se­ve­ral years, the one thing I real­ly mis­sed was the se­wing and crea­ti­vi­ty... I would look at the fa­brics (in my stu­dio) and think about what I could create with them,” she re­cal­led. What she came up with were aprons. Their small size made them ea­sier to sew than much lar­ger win­dow co­ve­rings. But when she sat down to sew again Karam Au­ger dis­co­ve­red she was not as fast as she once was.

“I used to be able to knock out an en­tire win­dow treat­ment in an eve­ning, but (when she re­tur­ned to se­wing) it would take me a day and a half to sew one

Pal­lia­tive care home

apron,” she no­ted with a laugh.

What she did create were whim­si­cal pieces that are not your grand­mo­ther’s uti­li­ta­rian aprons.

They fea­ture bea­ding and fringe, tas­sels and sheer fa­brics, vin­tage doi­lies and li­nens.

They gave her an out­let for wor­king with her hands but more than that, she says, they took her mind off can­cer.

“I would be lying on a table for 40 mi­nutes ha­ving a bone scan and I would be thin­king about aprons... it’s gi­ven me so­mew­here else for my mind to go.”

Her first ef­forts sym­bo­li­zed the abi­li­ty to re­claim her life and she che­ri­shed them, simply han­ging them up and loo­king at them for a while. When she was rea­dy she thought about gi­ving them to fa­mi­ly and friends, or sel­ling them for cha­ri­ty.

“I ne­ver wan­ted to make mo­ney with them. I would ne­ver get a price that would co­ver the amount of time I put in­to each apron,” Karam Au­ger said.

A vi­sit one day with the la­dies run­ning 2 Barn Owls in Hud­son convin­ced Karam Au­ger to put her aprons on the mar­ket. A sale ta­king place this wee­kend, Sa­tur­day, Ju­ly 7, will fea­ture more than 30 of her crea­tions.

Kels Deegan of 2 Barn Ows said she and her part­ners fell in love with the vin­tage ins­pi­red aprons the mo­ment they saw them.

“We knew we wan­ted to help her show­case them and raise mo­ney,” she said, ad­ding, “They’re tru­ly ori­gi­nal and sewn to per­fec­tion.”

All pro­ceeds other than re­cou­ping any costs from ma­te­rials will be do­na­ted to the Hud­son Pal­lia­tive Care Home.

And Karam Au­ger says she was al­so blown away by a recent of­fer from C & M Tex­tiles in Mon­treal to pro­vide her in the fu­ture with fa­brics free of charge.

Some of the aprons are “quir­kier than others” fea­tu­ring such things as gar­ter belts at the waist, or see-through fa­brics. And ba­sed on de­mand she’s just be­gun a line of men’s aprons. Most will sell from $25 to $60.

For now, though her bat­tle with can­cer is on­going, Karam Au­ger says she chooses to fo­cus on the po­si­tive.

“You have lou­sy days for sure, but I’m ha­ving less of them now that I’m doing so­me­thing I love. And it sure beats sitting around wat­ching soap ope­ras.”

Lin­da Karam Au­ger will be on hand to ans­wer ques­tions or speak with people du­ring the sale of her aprons, ta­king place Ju­ly 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2 Barn Owls, 422C, rue Main, Hud­son (lo­ca­ted in the barn be­hind the for­mer Legs store). For more in­for­ma­tion, call 2 Barn Owls at 514 795-4361.

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