According to BreastCancer.org, about one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime and an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year alone. A group in Turlock has joined together to help the thousands of women affected by the terrible disease through the creation of Knitted Knockers – special, handmade breast prosthetics for women who have undergone mastectomies as a result of their cancer battles.
Chicks with Sticks began as a crochet and knitting group focused on creating crafts and gifts for the Emanuel Cancer Center of Turlock. The group knits throw blankets, hats, scarves and other items to comfort those fighting cancer, and after hearing about Knitted Knockers, organizer Susie Wurm Marshall felt Chicks with Sticks should get involved.
“I instantly said, ‘My group has got to do that,’” said Marshall, who brought the idea to her knitting group about six months ago.
Marshall felt a personal connection to Knitted Knockers, as her mother lost an 18-year battle with breast cancer.
“It’s just been a blessing on our end making them and a blessing for the patients receiving them,” said Marshall. “It’s rewarding because you know that you’re helping someone that has been through something very difficult in their life.”
Currently, Chicks with Sticks is responsible for supplying Knitted Knockers to both the Los Angeles area and patients in Turlock, and has supplied 44 women with the handcrafted prosthetics so far. The group was recently contacted by Sutter Health in Modesto to begin supplying prosthetics to their cancer patients as well. There are nine members in Chicks with Sticks, and Marshall hopes to see that number grow so that the group can knit and crochet even more Knitted Knockers in the future.
“I would love to have anywhere from 30 to 50 people in the group,” said Marshall. “I originally wanted to start this group to have women get together and have a good time, and now it’s become a social thing where we spend two hours together laughing but also doing work to give comfort to those who are fighting cancer.”
Each prosthetic takes about two hours to knit or crochet, said Marshall, meaning that completing a pair of Knitted Knockers takes around four hours. To make the prosthetics, a special, 100 percent cotton yarn is used to create patterns that are printed out from the Knitted Knockers website, www.knittedknockers.org. Women tend to prefer the lightweight Knitted Knockers to the heavy, hot and expensive silicone prosthetics.
“They’re made with love, not manufactured,” said Marshall. “Each one is made stitch by stitch from a member who is hoping to change someone’s life.”
“I received them today and promptly put them on,” wrote one Knitted Knockers recipient in a thank you letter to Marshall. “So comfortable, lightweight and non-sweaty (too hot here!)”
Each prosthetic is provided to those in need free of charge, meaning that Chicks with Sticks relies on donations from the community to continue their generous knitting. While many community businesses, such as Needful Things and the Emanuel Cancer Center, help out with supplies, cash donations may be sent by mail to Monte Vista Chapel, 1619 E. Monte Vista Ave., under the care of Chicks with Sticks.
Chicks with Sticks meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month in Monte Vista Chapel’s South Education Building, Room 221. Those who are interested in attending a meeting – no knitting experience required – are encouraged to do so and may contact Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.