So far, I’ve been lucky: I haven’t lost a breast just a piece of one, a largish hunk on the lower left side. Luckily, gravity is on my side, and the remainder of the breast pushes down and fills the bra so that you can only tell if I point out the subtle, diagonal divot to you. It only looks really weird when I hold my arms over my head. And how often am I naked while yelling, “Touchdown!” and throwing my arms in the air?
Of course, many, many women are not so lucky. There’s endless literature on silicone implants and chest expanders and all the unpleasant ways that women can reconstruct a facsimile of a bosom. Some women have come up with another solution: crocheted or knitted breasts.
I love this: It’s crafty, and a little goofy. It has a “power to the people” feeling to it. That feels good, because if breast cancer doesn’t make you want to storm the barricade like the chorus of Les Miserables, I don’t know what will. Plus, women say crocheted boobs are cooler than silicone forms. They’re lighter. Or, if you wish, you can buy them with weights to make the “bra-feel” more normal, and to avoid posture and back problems that arise if you’ve had only one breast removed.
Apparently, some women opt not to do reconstruction, but to just use forms like these, or, to use nothing at all. You can find detailed instructions for crocheting a breast form at BreastFree.org. BreastFree offers support, information and advice for women who are considering whether or not to do reconstruction. I had no idea this sort of movement even existed. They even have photos of various options, solutions, outcomes etc. Some of these photos are pretty graphic. They make me understand why one friend comments that most people don’t want to recognize that a mastectomy is really an amputation.
This same friend had a double mastectomy about three years ago and she says that at that time, it was almost impossible to find photos like these. Some of these pictures are difficult. But so far, I’m impressed by the bravery of breast cancer survivors. (The official definition is anyone who’s had, or has, breast cancer but hasn’t died.) Would I have the guts to post pics of myself after a bilateral mastectomy? If it would help other women, I guess I would. The “sisterhood is powerful” quip doesn’t even begin to explain how much breast cancer survivors will go out of their way to help each other. So I guess that how these pictures came to be available.
Breast Cancer.org has a whole thread, as it were, on knitted and crocheted breasts. There seem to be several breast cancer survivors in the crafty booby field:
Beryl Tsang, a Toronto mom and survivor, provides a pattern for one called “Knitty Titty”, or “Tit Bits.” I like the latter name so much that I’m stealing it as a blog category. You can also find a knitting pattern here, if you’d like to knit your breast yourself.
Mitsy Crochet sells crocheted “Breast Cancer Boobies” on Etsy, the eBay of the crafting world. Here’s a picture:
A blogger who calls herself the “Happy Hooker” provides another crochet pattern, here.
In 2008, a breast cancer survivor in Brunswick, Maine starts a whole network of “Knitted Knockers” groups to knit breasts for cancer survivors.
And some women prefer to sew breast forms and fill them with microbeads.
I hope I never need these things, but I think it’s great that they’re out there. Craft on, sisters!