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Topic: Knitting and Illness

Forum: Humor and Games — Breast cancer is no laughing matter, but sometimes a good joke or a game is the best medicine.

Posted on: Nov 4, 2012 03:02PM - edited Nov 4, 2012 07:10PM by Moderators

Scorchy wrote:


Tonight I was pondering the intersection I’ve experienced with cancer and knitting. A time filler, stress reliever, something through which I channel creativity, something I have control over, something through which I can do something for someone else.

I would be really interested in hearing about how knitting has intersected with your diagnoses? Do you think it’s played a role in actively helping you--in either a practical way or a creative way?  Perhaps it makes no difference.

Have you ever given it any thought?

If you don't wish to answer in the thread, please feel free to PM me.  Also on Ravelry as TheNYCArchivist if you'd like to respond there.  I am researching the topic for a future blog post, but I'd like to talk about it generally, just the same.

Thanks everyone!


Edited by Mods to remove member's personal email address.

The Sarcastic Boob: Determined to Manage Cancer with the Same Level of Sarcasm with which I Manage Everything Else. Twitter: @sarcasticboob FB: Email: Dx 7/19/2012, IDC, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 8/12/2012 Hormonal Therapy 5/14/2013 Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy 7/27/2013 3DCRT: Bone Hormonal Therapy 1/27/2014 Aromasin (exemestane) Radiation Therapy 3/31/2014 3DCRT: Bone
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Nov 4, 2012 04:42PM dogsandjogs wrote:

I have been a knitter since age 6 when my grandmother taught me. Knitting and other types of needlework have added so much quality to my life and continue to do so.

The first thing I made was a scarf for my doll. Then I knitted a blanket out of scraps of angora yarn for the same doll. My mother encouraged my knitting and gave me all her yarn scraps.

Through the years I knitted various items of clothing for myself, my kids and my husband. I also hooked rugs, embroidered, did weaving, sewing, crocheting and needlepoint.

When I was diagnosed with cancer the first time in 1982, I started knitting even more. Took my knitting to doctor appointments and even hooked a rug while in the hospital for my mastectomy. The nurses were very  interested so I bought them a kit with several hooks so they could work on a rug when they had a spare moment. That was my going-home gift to them.

One time, when in the hospital for a D & C, I knitted while waiting for surgery. I noticed my arm aching and when I looked at it I saw huge lump. The IV had dislodged and the stuff was going under my skin instead of into the vein. The RN was shocked---

From then on, I always asked them to wait until the last possible moment to put the IV in so that I could knit or crochet while waiting.  It was quite funny - everyone else in the pre-op room was just lying there looking scared, or reading or talking to family members, and here was I with my knitting needles.  It kept me calm; that's the main reason I took my projects along. There is something about using your hands in a rhythmic manner that is so relaxing.

Now, when I'm stressed about something I get out the project I'm working on or start a new one. I have several drawers filled with yarn, books, needles, hooks, embroidery hoop, various sizes of hairpins (for making lace) and a plastic form for making flowers.

When I broke my wrist 4 years ago I was so depressed because I couldn't do any needlework for a while. I did all the exercises faithfully and was finally cleared for crocheting (but not knitting) a few weeks after the cast came off. I think it really helped me to get full function back to my wrist.

So yes, knitting and other types of needlework have definitely been life savers for me and always will be.

Dx 11/1982, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/17 nodes Surgery 11/17/1982 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Dx 11/15/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 2/11/2011 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel
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Nov 4, 2012 06:47PM Brendatrue wrote:

Hi to you both (and anyone else who comes along), I am intrigued by this topic, because I have just learned to knit. I decided to learn for many reasons: I no longer work and wanted to feel productive in a new way; I wanted to find another outlet for my creativity; I thought using my hands and having to focus on a task would help me to worry less, especially at times of stress (e.g., awaiting scans, dealing with new illness, etc.), while also offering the opportunity for my mind to wander and find new paths of interest; I liked the idea of learning a new skill and developing mastery with it; I was inspired by the book, The Creativity Cure, which included reasons for doing hand work in the path to finding greater creativity and meaningfulness; Making items by hand for loved ones sounded fulfilling.

So far (just 10 weeks) I have found knitting to be very interesting in that it has allowed me to discover the joy of feeling soft yarns and of sinking into the process of making something, to self-soothe, to deal with new challenges without becoming totally exasperated (learning how to "tink" or un-knit has been invaluable!), to relax in ways other than reading (which has been harder because of recent visual problems). The class I attended has ended, but the instructor has her own yarn store and is very willing to help me learn more, so that gives me hope that I will be able to build my skills with support--which I know I will need! Right now I am making a scarf with fall colors, and I am hopeful that it will be finished soon so that I can wear it. I imagine this is an activity that I will continue, and I am eager to learn more about it. I did embroidery years ago as a teenager, tried cross-stitch but did not like it, tried needlework (crewelry?) without getting excited about it, tried sewing and hated it.

It will be interesting to see if others have found knitting to be therapeutic. I would imagine there are more of us out there, and certainly there are many people who have found creative outlets with handwork that doesn't involve knitting. I hope one day that I will consider myself a more competent knitter, but in the meantime I am enjoying the process itself. Thanks for starting this topic.

Brenda.... Wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. (Antonio Machado) Dx 1995, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2006, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC)
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Dec 3, 2012 09:50PM susan3 wrote:

I love knitting. I am actually getting stuff done during my infusions. finished 2 sweaters that i started a long time ago and have a baby one started and another one for me almost done. like doing something with my hands when i am nervous. knitting is perfect :)

Live and love fully Dx 3/2001, IDC, Stage IV, Grade 3, 40/5 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Dec 3, 2012 10:32PM juliaanna wrote:

I love to knit, crochet, cross-stitch and sew.  I've not done much sewing since my diagnosis and surgeries as sitting at the sewing machine is not all that comfortable.  However, the number of knitted items I created has mushroomed during the past 9 months.  I take a project with me to all appointments, it helps pass the time and it does relieve the anxiety.  In the evening, it is comforting to feel the yarn glide between my fingers and see the item grow before my eyes as I sit in my recliner. Knitting also keeps me from snacking in the evening, cuz I hate to have to keep washing my hands.  I have to confess that I love starting projects, but I'm not so good at finishing them.  I especially dislike sewing seams, so I try to knit in the round or with as few seams as possible.  I like to have a number of projects on the needles- a small one that is easy to transport; something that is simple so you really don't have to concentrate on the pattern; something that is a little more involved; and then lace which requires peace and quiet so you concentrate on the intricate pattern.

I think being able to knit during recovery kept me from over-doing. During those waiting times, it kept me grounded and sane.

"Just live your life so that every morning, when you plant your feet on the floor beside your bed, the devil gets a cold chill and says, 'Oh CRAP' She's awake.'" Original diagnosis 2/7/12-mucinous carcinoma. Dx 2/7/2012, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 4/5/2012, DCIS Dx 4/5/2012, IDC Dx 4/5/2012, ILC, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/5/2012 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel Surgery 6/1/2012 Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 11/16/2012 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 7/26/2013 Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction

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