As many of you know, The Knitting Experience was itself born out of my personal experience with breast cancer. I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer at the age of 28 while pregnant with our youngest son. I had a mastectomy on my right breast on May 31, 2002. In September of 2006, a wonderful friend, Mary Ellen, presented me with the most thoughtful and joyful gift - a knitted boob!
In October 2006 I made an important decision. It was time. Time to have the other breast removed and start reconstruction. Because of my age and genetics, my chances of developing cancer in my remaining breast are high. By having a prophylactic mastectomy, I greatly reduce my risk. It took me a long time to be physically and emotionally ready to take this step, but now that the decision has been made, I am greatly relieved and a little excited.
I made an appointment to speak with the breast surgeon and the head of the Breast Health Center at MidCoast Hospital, Kim, sat in on the appointment. While we were discussing all my options, I asked them if they wanted to see my knitted boob.
My knitted boob.
They loved it. Kim instantly asked if I thought the local knitters would make some for the patients at MidCoast. Of course!
I took the idea back to the Knit at Night crowd and the response was overwhelming. Not only does everyone want to make a boob, they are telling their friends, who are telling their friends.
A local news station, WABI from Bangor, ME, did a story on our effort this summer. That piece was picked up by CNN Headline News, and suddenly the knitted knockers are global. We have heard from survivors looking to obtain a knitted prosthesis and knitters wanting to contribute to the cause.
We have a movement here!
Consider joining us. Why? Because knitting a boob is fun. It is a great conversation starter. And because it means so much to women who desperately need a little giggle. You might ask, why a knitted boob? Don’t they have silicone ones you can get at medical supply stores? Yes. They do. I had one. But I couldn’t get one right away. You can’t be fitted for a traditional breast prosthesis until you have been out of surgery for at least three weeks.
So, what are you supposed to do if you want to go to the store? Go for ice cream with your kids? Feel normal for a moment despite the fact that the big “C” is now part of your life? You can try to stuff a sock in your bra. That’s what I did, and let me tell you, it does not look anything like a breast. I felt horrible. I cried. I put on a BIG, BAGGY shirt and went out sorta hunched over so no one could see my chest.
I realize that most people weren’t looking at my chest. And maybe they wouldn’t have noticed the lumpy nature of the sock. But I noticed.
After three weeks of recovery, I was scheduled to return to work. Here I was, 28, 2 months pregnant, just had a mastectomy, and had to go back to work without a proper prosthesis. I called the fitting store and begged, pleaded, and even cried, in an attempt to convince them to fit me for my falsie early. Luckily they did.
But, if I had had a knitted boob right after my surgery, all that wouldn’t have happened. Yes, I would still have cancer. I would still have lost a breast. But, at least I could have gone out into the world feeling normal.
Prior to reconstruction, I wore the knitted boob most of the time. It is more comfortable than the silicone prosthesis and actually breathes. With the silicone one, I would get a heat rash on my chest during the summer or when the hot flashes get particularly active.
So... please consider knitting a knocker to help another woman with breast cancer feel a little more normal, and perhaps giggle each morning as she slips a bright red or orange or green - maybe stripes! - boob into her bra.