This weekend I am honored to walk on behalf of Nicholas and Anastasia Tsoudis.  Nicholas is the brother and Anastasia is the mother of active CSCAZ volunteer and facilitator Olga Tsoudis.  Olga and I are walking together Saturday morning at 7 a.m. at Bushmaster Park if you would like to join us as we honor Nicholas and Anastasia.  We are starting from the east parking lot at Bushmaster.

Recently Olga shared with me:

“Anastasia Tsoudis and Nicholas Tsoudis- mother and son both with stomach cancer. My mother lost her husband in 2017 and then my brother passed away in 2018 at the age of 48 from stomach cancer (three weeks after his diagnosis). My mother lived in Greece during this time. In order to survive each day, she created a knitting and crochet world for herself. From the moment the morning arrived until the evening when she watched her Greek soap operas, she knitted all sorts of items from sweaters, scarves, hats, booties, Greek evil eyes, pillows, towels, little flowerpots, pomegranates, and flower wreaths. She knitted and knitted to get through the portal of mental health. It kept her mind off the tragedy, sadness, anger, and depression. She then handed out these knitted items to her family, friends, and neighbors. Her work was creative and exceptional. It brought joy for others and that brought joy to her.  She was then diagnosed with stomach cancer in January 2023 and passed away in February 2023. When she passed away, every person in her town in Greece had multiple items of her work and they talked about how she left something behind for each of them to remember her. Even my friends here in the United States have several of her knitted items. In order to create some healing space for myself, I used art through both deaths. When my mom passed away, I created this specific art piece from her knitting supplies that she had not yet finished. It is currently hanging in a gallery in San Francisco until mid August.”  Olga Tsoudis, Flagstaff, July 2023

As part of our Radiation Mask Exhibit “From Darkness to Light” Olga created a radiation mask to represent her brother. It was included in our exhibit at Coconino Center for the Arts throughout February/March 2023 and will also be on display in the gallery show at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Flagstaff, September – December 2023.  Olga shared, “This art piece is dedicated to my brother who passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 48, and special thoughts and dedication for the anonymous patient who wore this mask. The messages on the radiation mask are connected to our Greek culture, my brother’s life in New York City and Washington D.C., as well as his commitment to our parents. The knitted red rose was created by our mother and the watch belonged to our father. My mother has been knitting more and more for her mental health since his passing. My father passed away the year before him. His watch represents time – the time we hope for in our lives before and after a cancer diagnosis. My brother coped with his diagnosis by hoping for time for another trip to Greece. There are various items on the mask that belonged to my brother himself – fabric from his shirts and suits, a piece of a leather wallet, and his linen handkerchiefs. Several of the supplies were purchased in Greece in the town where my mother currently lives – the ribbons and the evil eyes. I chose the evil eye to be included as a symbol of protection in Greek culture. The Greek stamps and some coins have the theme of Greek mythology. The wooden crafts have Greek words of best wishes, love, hope, and happiness – something we all focus on during a time of illness.”