By Meg Dickens
October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Locals participated in events such as Pink Out Day at the Paul McEwen Stadium, the annual Cancer Survivor Dinner, and different acts by the Johnson County Cancer Support Group. Unknown to many, local business proprietors at Mink Crafts started a chapter of the nonprofit organization Knitted Knockers.
Knitted Knockers is a volunteer-based program that provides lightweight prosthetics for those that have undergone mastectomies, lumpectomies, radiation, or are currently going through reconstruction. Volunteers knit or crochet these prosthetics out of approved materials from provided patterns. Generous donations keep this nonprofit afloat, and the “knockers” are 100 percent free.
Rebecca Mink and her mother, Rachel Vincell, have a personal connection to the cause. Rachel lost her sister to aggressive breast cancer in 2005, and Rebecca had a partial mastectomy to remove a tumor. That is what inspired the two to do something special for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
After surgery, sizing and stretching occur over a year. According to Mink’s personal experience, the sizing can change drastically enough to need a new prosthetic. Each normal prosthetic costs approximately $500, and the special bras needed are and additional $100 apiece. These are not adjustable and are hefty.
The group of 12 started making “knockers” in mid-September. So far, they have made approximately 25 pairs. Anyone in need of a prosthetic can drop by Mink Crafts for a free pair. These prosthetics are adjustable, cotton-based, machine washable, pool safe, and available in organic cotton. Current sizes range from A to DD. If the correct size is not available, individuals can put in orders for the correct size. Restuffing is also available for free.
Future projects include military scarfs and wool-based helmet liners, neonatal hats for infants, neonatal wraps for kittens, and cloth dangling toys for premature infants. Donations for stuffing and yarn are appreciated. Call Mink Crafts for more information at 423-440-1561, or check out the Knitted Knockers website at knittedknockers.org.