Women who have had a mastectomy [a surgical removal of the breast] and cannot afford breast reconstruction surgery or silicone prostheses are set to benefit from the Knit-for-Cansa project which aims to provide at least 2 000 women with knitted prosthetic breasts.

Helping Hand and the Cancer Society of South Africa (Cansa) joined forces to have these knitted breasts ready in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

“This year, in collaboration with Cansa and the FroueVonds, we are tackling the Knit-for-Cansa Project under the banner of #BosomFriends,” says Benette Welman, Project Organiser at Solidarity Helping Hand and the FroueVonds.

Helping Hand’s annual Knitting Needle Project uses people’s love and ability to knit and crochet to make a difference in the community and last year people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease received fiddle sleeves from the project.

Women’s experiences with breast cancer

A study investigating the experiences of women seeking breast cancer treatment at one of South Africa’s public hospitals found that most women feared diagnosis because of the experience of chemotherapy and physical mutilation related to mastectomy.

The 2020 paper published in 2020 on Sage Journals also highlighted the importance of social support from family, religion, and clinical staff for women to cope with their condition and adhering to treatment and medication.

“Despite all the emotional and mental ups and downs that come with the disease, it is traumatic for a woman to lose her hair and her breasts. We want to make the burden easier and alleviate the suffering with a ray of hope in the form of a knitted breast prosthesis. By doing so, we try to restore dignity and give hope to women with breast cancer,” said Welman.

Over to 15 491 South African women were diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

This is according to the Global Cancer Observatory, an online platform which presents cancer statistics to inform cancer control and research.

The Observatory further reported breast cancer related deaths of 4 664 women in the same year.

Breast cancer is the leading cancer amongst women in the country accounting for 27.1% of new cancer cases in women.

Restoring dignity

“We are proud to form a partnership with Helping Hand this wonderful initiatve to support patients with breast cancer,” said Gerda Strauss, head of services at Cansa.

“Every prosthesis we donate to breast cancer patients is sincerely appreciated and restores the dignity of these women,” said Strauss.

The packages containing synthetic wool, filling material as well as the pattern to knit or crochet the prosthesis will cost R60 for one prosthesis.

These packages will be distributed to any volunteer or member of the public who wants to knit with Helping Hand.

Helping Hand will deliver the prostheses to Cansa offices nationwide to distribute them to women in need during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The public can get involved by contributing financially to the project and enabling Helping Hand to purchase and distribute the packages. A once-off donation can be made at helpendehand.co.za with KNITCANSA as reference. – Health-e News