Feb. 14, 2013 | A knitting group in Russellville is providing hope for breast cancer patients one breast prosthesis at a time.
The group provides knitted breast prostheses to patients at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). They are distributed free of charge through the Cancer Institute’s Patient Support Pavilion to women who have undergone a mastectomy. The pavilion is located on the first floor of the Cancer Institute and is open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
A knitted breast prosthesis can be slipped into a regular bra and adjusted in size by adding or subtracting the polyester FiberFil filling, which is machine washable.
Sharon Loyd, a member of the knitting group that meets at least once a week, said that knitting breast prostheses in public is “quite a conversation starter.” Once the conversation has begun, if someone is interested in knitting prostheses, members of the group are eager to share how to make them.
“If they’re a knitter, sometimes we’ll offer them a pattern,” Loyd said.
The group was already giving of their time and resources by knitting items for Arkansas Children’s Hospital when they heard about knitting breast prostheses. A friend of Loyd’s who had cancer passed the idea along.
“I don’t know why I picked it up and ran with it, but I did,” Loyd said. “It just seemed like something I was supposed to do.”
Loyd was able to find a pattern online for the breast prostheses, which has been revised a few times to better meet the needs of the recipients.
The knitting group primarily pays for the supplies themselves, though they do occasionally receive donations. For them, it’s more about providing a service to those in need than the cost.
“We want them given away to somebody who needs them,” Loyd said.
A total of 55 knitted breast prostheses have been delivered to UAMS in sizes ranging from AA to G.
“I would like to thank all the knitters who have helped me knit all those breasts,” Loyd said. “I could not have done it without their help.”