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Monticello Mom Donated Over 200 Blankets to Cancer Patients in Honor of Her Late Son

Published in Cancer Care, For the Health of It, Volunteer Services Author: CentraCare

Agatha Christie, the best-selling novelist of all time, summarized it best, “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world.”

Sandie Stachowicz has spent the last three years crocheting blankets for oncology patients at CentraCare – Monticello Cancer Center to honor her son, Peter Stachowicz, who died of a rare brain cancer at the age of 25. She says they are “For Pete’s Sake.”

“I miss him. He was like a supernova,” Sandie recalled fondly. “He was someone who would give you all their light and all their energy … but they are gone fast, too. His cancer was cruel. It was in three of the four lobes which are incredibly rare.”

PeterPeter initially received treatment at Mayo Clinic before he was transferred to Monticello to get the medical care he needed closer to home.

“The people in Monticello are fantastic — they would donate all kinds of things. One day, Peter found this crocheted blanket and he was so tickled to receive it.”

Sandie remembers being surprised that a 24-year-old would find so much joy in something as simple as a blanket.

“I think he was excited because somebody he didn’t know made this for him when he was going through something really difficult.”

It is that memory that Sandie has held close to her heart for the last three years. “After he passed, I wondered about how I could honor him.”

That is when she got to work making blankets — a whopping 231 (and counting) to be exact. “I have a little card that I include with each blanket that has a picture of Peter and his story.”

Peter’s illness took away most of his ability to walk, use his dominant right side and speak. However, there was one thing he was able to say very carefully—"Don’t give up hope.” It is a phrase written prominently on each card to remind the blanket’s recipient to keep moving forward.

Sandie and blanketsSandie gives each blanket its own unique name specific to a memory she has of Peter like “Cold Steel On Ice,” because he was a hockey player.

“There was a pink one,” laughed Sandie. “I thought, ‘what am I going to call this one?’ He studied abroad in England for a semester. And, in England, they call cotton candy, ‘pink candy floss.’ So, that is what I named it. I just try to put a little piece of Peter in every blanket, like a game. Even if the recipient does not understand, I know what it means.”

And, for cancer patients, a blanket can mean everything. “Out of all the beautiful things people did for Peter, it was the blanket that stood out. You would not think crocheted blankets would be that exciting,” Sandie confessed.

For people battling cancer in Monticello, Sandie’s blankets make them feel more at home.

CentraCare – Monticello Medical Oncology Supervisor Brittany Kolles says, “These blankets help warm the spaces and make it feel cozier. Cold sensitivity is a symptom of the treatment. For patients to have extra warmth just helps the overall experience.”

Sandie says she has no plans of stopping anytime soon. “It is just therapy for me. It really helps. I do this for Peter … Even if you never got to meet him, his memory will live on. I think he would be proud of me … and a little embarrassed,” Sandie laughed.

As for Peter’s gift that started it all, Sandie is not sure who made it. “I would never get rid of it … never, never, never. If only the person who made Peter’s blanket knew … how much it meant to him … it brought him so much joy during a time that was very dark.”

Learn more about Peter or find out how you can make a donation to Pete’s Blankets.