Volunteers knit prostheses for breast cancer survivors

APPLETON, Wis. - Gwyned Trefethen and Manuela Lornson use their time and talents to make a difference. The women started a group called Knitted Knockers of the Fox Cities. Right now, there are 15 volunteers who create handmade prostheses for breast cancer patients and survivors who've undergone mastectomies and other treatments that have altered their appearance.

"I have personally not been affected by losing my breasts, but I can imagine if I did, I would want something that would make me look whole again and make me feel beautiful," said Lornson.

The knitted prosthetics come in many different colors and shapes. 

"The stuffing comes out so they can be adjusted," Trefethen explains.

Unlike a standard prosthesis that can be heavier, sweatier and uncomfortable, these are lightweight and breathable.

"You can wear Knitted Knockers much sooner post operation," Trefethen says. "They're washable. They're hypoallergenic." 

They also fit in a regular bra, and they're free of charge.

"To have an option like that, as nice as this is, that doesn't require a prescription and insurance involvement, that's pretty incredible," said Dr. Carol Grabowski at Fox Valley Hematology & Oncology.

Last week, the volunteers dropped off their first round of donations to Fox Valley Hematology & Oncology in Appleton.

"It's kind of fun. It's like being a secret Santa," explained Trefethen.

"I think it's amazing and generous, and generous of heart and spirit, and I'm very impressed," said Dr. Grabowski.

Trefethen and Lornson have both lost loved ones to cancer.

"I know from my mother-in-law how painful it is and all the suffering you go through. I just want them to feel good about themselves again and feel like someone else is thinking about them. They're not alone," Lornson said.

Trefethen adds, "I hope it gives them the confidence to go out in public again when they might be nervous."

The volunteers say it's rewarding knowing that they're helping boost women's self esteem and giving those affected by cancer one less thing to worry about.

The national Knitted Knockers organization is based in Washington. They have patterns available online.

The Fox Cities chapter recently formed. They are currently looking for more volunteers as well as donations of money and supplies. Click here for more information.

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