MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - With over 50,000 mastectomies in the United States each year, Knitted Knockers is working to brighten survivor's lives with a little extra support.
The organization, founded by breast cancer survivor Barbara Demorest in 2011, provides free, handmade breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures to the breast.
"These are so much lighter than the prosthesis," said Kimberly McKeithen, owner of Coastal Vac & Sew in Gulfport. The store is also the home to the Mississippi chapter of Knitted Knockers.
"They (the prosthesis) are really heavy, they weigh on the shoulders," McKeithen said. "Down south here, they get hot and sweaty and odorous. These are so lightweight, it's just like your regular breast."
McKeithen said she got involved with Knitted Knockers after her friend, Sharon, asked for help with some orders. She said she has been doing it ever since.
"There's definitely a need and I like to do it," McKeithen said.
Traditional breast prosthetic are usually expensive, heavy, sweaty and many reviews say they are uncomfortable. The organizations says Knitted Knockers are "soft, comfortable, beautiful and when placed in a regular bra they take the shape and feel of a real breast."
Women can request a pair through KnittedKnockers.org, choosing their size and color. Depending on where that woman lives, the requests are then sent to the state's chapter to be filled.
Right now, there are 300 registered groups in 49 states and 16 countries. In Mississippi, there are seven registered knitters on the website, from individual knitters to groups in different part of the state.
"We usually get emails that say 'thank you' and things like that," McKeithen said. "I did have one lady though who was so excited to get her knockers, she went into the bathroom, she put them in her bra and walked out with her head held high. And it was wonderful."
The knockers are completely free for the survivor. The organization said they are sending out over 200 a week, with one month having over 1,000 orders.
Coastal Sew & Vac sells the yarn at wholesale to knitters who take part. You can find free patterns for the knockers here.
"What we like to see, women feel good about themselves again, after going through everything they've gone through," said McKeithen.