Breast Cancer Survivor Crafts ‘Knitted Knockers’ for Women Who Have Had Mastectomies

Shirlee Sullivan hated the silicone falsies she wore after her bilateral mastectomy in 2012. The breast cancer survivor says they were hot, heavy and irritated her skin.

“I decided, ‘I’ll go flat,’ ” says Sullivan, a 75-year-old retired registered nurse in Omaha, Nebraska. “But some of my clothes looked just ridiculous.”

While online, she stumbled across, a non-profit which gives cancer survivors like Sullivan free pairs of soft, hand-knit, washable prosthetic breasts.

“They’re warm in the winter, cool in the summer, they’re lightweight, you just put them into your regular bra and away you go – it looks like you have normal boobs again,” Sullivan says.

Barb Demorest
Suzanne Bair

Knitted Knockers was founded six years ago, by breast cancer survivor Barb Demorest.

After Demorest’s July 2011 mastectomy, the CPA assumed she could immediately have reconstructive surgery and no one would ever know she’d had cancer. But, due to complications, she couldn’t.

“I was devastated,” says Demorest, 66, of Bellingham, Wash. “I wanted to appear normal.”

Demorest’s surgeon told her that many women, like Sullivan, aren’t happy with traditional silicone falsies. When Demorest asked what else she could do, her doctor asked if she could knit.

She can knit, but she wasn’t in the right head space. She went home, called a friend and told her the doctor said a knitted breast worked well for one of his other patients.

A week later, Demorest stuck a sock in her bra and put on a loose-fitting jacket and went to church – there, her friend slipped her a pair of knitted knockers. Armed with her new accessory, Demorest took off her jacket and felt like herself again.

“It was life-changing for me,” says Demorest. She knew she had to make them available for other women who couldn’t knit, or didn’t have a close friend who did.

Knitted Knockers currently ships more than 1,000 free knockers a month. Their pattern has been downloaded more than…

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