Chattanooga knitters make knockers to help local breast cancer survivors

Genuine Purl distributes Knitted Knockers to breast cancer survivors across Tennessee. (Image: WTVC)

All across our area, volunteers are creating knitted pieces for cancer patients. But they aren't making blankets or hats. Instead, it's something that can help a woman take pride in her appearance, after fighting the battle of her life.

Inside Genuine Purl, knitting is a social event. But for Shirlee Sullivan, someone else's hobby became a lifeline. "I am infinitely grateful to be a 7 year survivor."

Shirlee had a double mastectomy, and as a nurse, she was prepared for the scars but not all that came with her breast cancer recovery. "When I started to heal and realized how grotesque my clothes looked, with anything. on the the left side, I'm concave." Typical prosthetics weren't for her. That's when she found knitted knockers, and asked about them in her local yarn store. "They had never heard of knitted knockers so I showed them what they were," Shirlee says.

Hattie Duro uses each row as a time to relax. But a few years ago, it became something more. "This kind of combined the best of all things for me. A way to turn my hobby into something that means something."

She, too, knows the cruelty of cancer. She managed a radiology and oncology practice and saw firsthand every day the toll that struggling with cancer takes on women."

And as her involvement in the Knitted Knocker program grows, they are now a distribution center, so does the gratitude of the women who receive them, free of charge, the evidence in every thank you note she receives.

It's a feeling of thanks that Shirlee knows well. "To find a prosthesis that is comfortable and beautiful and free, someone makes it for you. It's quite overwhelming."

For more on Knitted Knockers, including patterns and how to get involved, click here.

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