Having a mastectomy (breast removal surgery) can be life-altering for anyone. But then there is added pressure of looking the same as before. Women in urban areas have access to silicone breast prostheses and many more, however, women in rural areas have only the choice of stuffing a handkerchief or dupatta into their bras to look the same.
That is until Knitted Knockers came to exist. Knitted Knockers is a type of crochet prosthesis for women made by the Saaisha India Foundation. This charitable foundation formed by Jayashree Ratan is a group of women who make these crochet prostheses for women who have undergone mastectomy. Having created a network of over 270 volunteers from across India, UAE and the US, the Saaisha foundation has distributed over 5,700 prostheses for free in the last four years.
It was formed in 2018 when Jayasree realised the urgent need for breast prostheses for women who have gone through breast removal surgeries. Jayasree had this idea while she was travelling to the US and had volunteered for an organisation that made breast prostheses. She realised the need for the product in her home country. The start was when she gave a pair to one of her friends who had undergone a mastectomy. That friend found them extremely comfortable and useful and hence asked Jayasree to make them available for all other women in need. That is how Knitted Knockers came to existence.
From 2018, Jayasree and two other friends have been making these prostheses and distributing them all over India. “We never knew we would touch so many lives – it has been such an eye-opener,” Jaysree said in an interview with The Better India.
Initially, the organisation was functioning purely on word of mouth, however, during the COVID-19 lockdown, they got the chance to create a social media presence. It gave them more visibility and helped them tie-up with hospitals like Tata Memorial and Chennai Breast Centre. Some of the breast cancer survivors who have used their product are now the knitters for Knitted Knockers and active members of their community.
Knitted Knockers are knitted with the best quality cotton yarn that is comfortable to the skin and is filled with a fiberfill. They fit well into the mastectomy bra and are available in different cup sizes. Once the prosthesis is ready, they are sent directly to the customers via Registered India Post. The prostheses are sent as a pair and they can be washed and reused frequently. Depending on usage one can use these prostheses for close to two years.
In addition to breast prostheses, starting from last year, the Saaisha foundation has also started to make chemo caps and beanies for children affected by cancer. If you have the willingness to volunteer for them or know anyone who needs a breast prosthesis you can reach out to Jayashree Ratan at +91-77009 90212, or Srividya Gopinath at +91-9840462708.