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‘Boobless Wonders’ sisterhood knits together a national community of breast cancer survivors

On the last Sunday of each month, 89-year-old Pat Anderson from Escondido meets with six other elderly local women who make up her highly specialized knitting circle. But do not let the common passion of these ladies for knitting deceive you into thinking they are relaxed hobbyists.

Anderson is the founder of Sisterhood of the Boobless Wonders, a group of breast cancer survivors who have knitted and donated nearly 2,500 pairs of busters over the past five years, which are pillowcases for women who have lost their breasts. . mastectomy surgery.

Anderson started the Busters project in 2017 as what she calls her latest and greatest knitting project in her 50-year career as a dedicated fiber stylist. The native Minnesota widow lost her breasts to cancer at the age of 74. During her recovery, she took a pair of silicone prosthetic molds to wear inside the bra, but – like many women – she discovered that the silicone molds were too heavy and did not. t fit properly.

Pat Anderson, 89, far right, leads the Wonder Sister without Boobless, a group of seven elderly knitwear, all of which are survivors of breast cancer.

(Lisa Hornak / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Instead, she tried to put wrapped socks and bath cleaners on the bra, and then gave up and wore nothing but her clothes did not fit properly, so she decided to create her own knitted accessories. of wardrobe with acrylic and nylon thread. The resulting model, which she patented, has triangular knitted panels at the top and a flat panel at the back with a hole in the middle that can be used to fill the Buster with enough polyfill padding to fit any chest cup size.

Eager to share her creation with others, Anderson contacted Sharp Memorial Hospital oncology patient navigators to get referrals for women who would love a pair of Buster. As news spread across the country about Anderson’s self-funded campaign, she gradually recruited six other masters in the group: Pat Moller, Jan Rillie, Pat Hamada, Ann Hornby, Bobbie Weiss and KJ Koljonen.

Recruitment work has been a major challenge. Not only should fully volunteer team members be professional level knitters willing to give tens of hours of their time each month to knit perfect busters, they should also be breast cancer survivors. That’s the key, Anderson said, to being part of the Sisterhood of the Boobless Wonders, or SBW for short.

“They need to be breast cancer survivors in order to be part of a team that is making a really significant difference in the lives of other women,” Anderson said. “When we are working on Busters, all our mental, physical and emotional energy is focused on the project and we transfer that energy to the project through our hands.”

Anderson said it takes about eight hours to complete a set of Busters, which come in a variety of pretty pastel colors to illuminate the spirits of their users. Whenever Anderson receives an email order (spinshuttlestudio@gmail.com), she receives the owner’s size preference and address, wraps the gift in a set, puts it in a packing envelope, and sends it immediately.

In the early years, Anderson himself covered all the costs of yarn, packaging and shipping, but many recipients responded with a note of thanks and donation to pay the Busters gift to another breast cancer survivor. Any cash donations left over at the end of the year after product costs are covered are donated to Sharp Memorial Hospital.

Last year, after PBS NewsHour made a national story about the Sisters, so many orders and donations from the Busters were poured out that Anderson had $ 9,600 in donations left at the end of the year. She donated $ 6,100 to Sharp Memorial, $ 1,000 to KPBS Television, and $ 2,500 to the Pink Ribbon Girls Bay Area chapter, a survivor-led movement that offers warm meals, housekeeping, babysitting, and meeting trips. and other services for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

The PBS report was an aid to Anderson’s knitting team, which was largely unemployed for most of the pandemic. Last month, Anderson sent 31 pairs of Busters. In the same month last year, she sent only five pairs. Its purpose is to get enough orders to keep the team engaged – they have a target group of 82 pairs per month – so they have plenty of inventory available in all colors and sizes of cups and no one has to wait any longer more than a few days for a couple.

Anderson said many of her new clients over the past two years have ordered Busters because small boutiques across the country that assembled and sold silicone prostheses were abolished during the pandemic. Anderson said women can still buy online these products, which can cost up to $ 300 per prosthesis, but they may not test it out initially. She said some of these silicone devices were non-reversible and some women had difficulty submitting the documents needed to be reimbursed by their insurers.

In addition to maintaining a steady stream of orders, Anderson has another goal – to recruit more knitters. She will turn 90 in September and two more knitwear is also in her 80s. The youngest knitter is 68 years old. Anderson is now making plans to train other Busters knitters to share responsibilities of purchasing materials, handling orders, shipping and giving to charity when she is not.

Recently, Anderson learned that she was nominated for a Community Hero Award at this summer’s San Diego County Fair. She was touched by the nomination and is proud of the work Busters has accomplished over the past five years.

“This is the culmination of all those 50 years I have spent working towards this,” she said. “I feel extremely good to see that this particular project, which is the most important I have ever done, has made such a big difference to so many people.”

To order Busters, email Anderson at spinshuttlestudio@gmail.com.



‘Boobless Wonders’ sisterhood knits together a national community of breast cancer survivors Source link ‘Boobless Wonders’ sisterhood knits together a national community of breast cancer survivors

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