Knitted Knockers provide softer alternative
It started when Gloria Siewert got a visit from a Canadian friend who is a breast cancer survivor. The friend had a single mastectomy and had undergone unsuccessful reconstruction surgery. She asked Gloria what might seem like a strange question: “Which one is real?” Gloria couldn’t tell. It was then that her friend revealed that she was wearing a Knitted Knocker.
Knitted Knockers are a soft, handmade alternative to a traditional breast prosthesis. They are made by volunteers around the world and distributed free of charge to breast cancer patients through the organization’s web site, knittedknockers.org. The project was originally started in Bellingham, Washington by Barbara Demorest, a breast cancer survivor herself. Barbara, like many women, found traditional prostheses to be heavy, cumbersome and uncomfortable. Her friend Phyllis, an avid knitter, found a pattern online and created a soft, lightweight knit prosthesis for Barbara. The organization Knitted Knockers was born.
When Gloria heard about the organization from her Canadian friend, she decided to get involved. She reached out to Sandy Gruszynski, Winona Health’s Cancer Care Coordinator to see if there would be interest in the product in Winona. Sandy gave her an enthusiastic yes, and Gloria gathered a group of Winona Health Volunteers to get the project off the ground.
Since starting in January 2017, a group of ten to twelve area women have made over 400 Knitted Knockers, which have been distributed to local breast cancer survivors. Gloria calls her project bittersweet. “It’s sad that there’s such a need for these, but it’s such a great feeling to be helping other women who need this.”
Carol Byrne is one of the breast cancer survivors who received the Knitted Knockers. She says, “I’m so grateful to Gloria and her group. The Knitted Knockers are so helpful in the healing process, especially if you’re deciding whether or not to undergo reconstruction. Instead of buying expensive, heavy prostheses, I can use these and have my clothes fit right and look good. It’s my new normal.”
When Gloria started making the prostheses, she thought that natural, flesh-toned colors would be the most popular. To her surprise, the group gets requests for all sorts of colors. She feels this is something that women can have a little fun with during one of the most challenging times of their lives.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about Knitted Knockers, call the Winona Health Volunteer Services office at 507.474.3328 or contact Kris at [email protected]. If you’d like to help by donating to the Knitted Knockers program, click the button below.
Gloria Siewert, Winona Health Volunteer
Winona Health Volunteers gather to assemble Knitted Knockers care packages.
The initial thought was to make flesh-toned prostheses, but the group began receiving requests for all sorts of colors.