‘Made with love and fi­illed with hope’

This Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Month, we learn how an amaz­ing com­mu­nity are knit­ting pros­the­ses and pro­vid­ing sup­port for thou­sands of women af­fected by can­cer

YOURS (UK) - - News - By Katharine Woot­ton Aware­ness Oc­to­ber is Breast Can­cer across the Month when events run and raise coun­try to in­form peo­ple find out more funds for re­search. To in your area about what’s hap­pen­ing www.wear­it­pink.org visit YOURS ■ EV­ERY FORT­NIGHT 17

You don’t have to look far in Lynne Hawksworth’s house to find bulging stashes of yarn and piles of knit­ting nee­dles, along with dozens and dozens of knit­ted knock­ers, in ev­ery colour imag­in­able, wait­ing to be shipped to women around the coun­try who’ve un­der­gone surgery for breast can­cer.

Lynne (65) is just one of hun­dreds of women who vol­un­teer their time to knit these lovely cot­ton breasts, of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive to the NHS-pro­vided sil­i­cone breast pros­thet­ics given to women who’ve had

a lumpec­tomy or mas­tec­tomy, fol­low­ing a breast can­cer di­ag­no­sis.

Lynne, who is now a trustee and or­der co­or­di­na­tor of the reg­is­tered char­ity Knit­ted Knock­ers

UK, says, “We wanted to give women a choice be­cause while there’s noth­ing wrong with the stan­dard sil­i­cone pros­thet­ics, they’re not al­ways right for ev­ery­one and our knock­ers of­fer a lighter, softer al­ter­na­tive as they’re hand­made and filled with su­per-soft polyester fill­ing.”

Since the char­ity be­gan in the UK in 2014, fol­low­ing the lead of sim­i­lar groups in the US, the Knit­ted Knock­ers vol­un­teers have sent out more than 10,000 cot­ton pros­thet­ics, all cre­ated be­spoke for the lady they’re go­ing to.

“When a woman con­tacts us to ask for help, we take their bra size and use that to adapt the di­men­sions of our pat­tern. Once we’ve stuffed it we then leave a lit­tle gap so that the lady can add more stuff­ing, take it away or move around the shape of the knocker to what suits her best. She can choose the colour, whether she’d like a nip­ple

‘Ev­ery pack­age has to be com­pletely per­sonal and in­di­vid­ual as it’s a gift from one woman to an­other’

or not, and we give them as much choice as pos­si­ble as it’s a way of giv­ing them back con­trol at what is a re­ally chal­leng­ing time, when it can feel like many other choices are taken away.”

As ev­ery knocker is a gift, en­tirely free to the re­cip­i­ent, the char­ity take time to ap­prove the stan­dard of their vol­un­teer knit­ters and check ev­ery sin­gle knit be­fore it’s sent out in a beau­ti­ful pack­age, of­ten con­tain­ing a card with kind words from the knit­ter or a treat such as a choco­late bar. “Ev­ery pack­age has to be com­pletely per­sonal and in­di­vid­ual as it’s a gift from one woman to an­other,” says Lynne.

And it’s this thought and care that makes all the dif­fer­ence to the women who re­ceive it. Kay Coombes (50) was one of the first-ever UK re­cip­i­ents of a knit­ted knocker after she had a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy with no re­con­struc­tion. “I had been strug­gling a bit with the pros­thet­ics the hos­pi­tal had given me as they were heavy against my scars, which still felt very fresh. But the knit­ted knock­ers were such a re­lief – like putting on comfy jog­gers after a day in a tight skirt. It was also so lovely to think some­one had gone to the ef­fort to make some­thing just for me.”

Since then, Kay learned how to knit a knocker, both for her­self and to send to other women, and be­came an ad­min for the char­ity. She also came up with the de­sign for a soft pros­thetic suit­able for ladies to swim in.

“I was find­ing it dif­fi­cult swim­ming with my young son as the hos­pi­tal pros­thetic wouldn’t fit in my swim­suit prop­erly and the nor­mal knit­ted knocker soaked up all the wa­ter and be­came heavy. So I cre­ated a knocker filled with shower scrunchies so they look the same shape, but you can just squeeze them out and they’re prac­ti­cally dry.”

These ‘aqua knock­ers’ have be­come hugely pop­u­lar and gen­er­ated some re­ally touch­ing sto­ries as Lynne ex­plains. “I’ve had ladies write to say that be­fore­hand they had em­bar­rass­ing in­ci­dents on hol­i­day or in the pool, but the aqua knocker has given them con­fi­dence again.

“When­ever I read feed­back from the re­cip­i­ents I have to have tis­sues by my side as it’s so emo­tional and amaz­ing that some­thing that’s so easy for me to cre­ate can make such a dif­fer­ence to a woman and her fam­ily. I al­ways feel very hum­bled.”

As well as cre­at­ing the pros­the­ses, Knit­ted Knock­ers also runs a Face­book group where mem­bers can share their ex­pe­ri­ences and sup­port one an­other.

“Peo­ple post about the won­der­ful and not so won­der­ful mo­ments in their lives. We have this phrase ‘in your pocket’ which ba­si­cally means that how­ever far away you are, we’re with you in your pocket as it were, sup­port­ing you,” says Lynne.

“I would say I’ve got so much more out of this than I feel I have put into it and it’s like be­ing part of a fam­ily. We now just want to try to spread the word and help as many women who could ben­e­fit from the knock­ers as pos­si­ble.”

■ If you’d like to re­ceive a knit­ted knocker, or be­come a vol­un­teer knit­ter, call 07850 026264 or visit www.kkuk­ciowix.com

■ You can also donate by send­ing a cheque payable to Knit­ted Knock­ers UK to: PO Box 779, South­port PR8 9QJ

Lynne Hawksworth, busy cre­at­ing knit­ted pros­thet­ics for this in­cred­i­ble char­ity

Each and ev­ery knit­ted knocker is cus­tom made with love and care

Clock­wise from above: ‘Aqua knock­ers’ for swim­mers; an in­di­vid­ual knocker in its gift par­cel and mini knocker keyrings, sold for fundrais­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.