Tag Archives: breast cancer

Thank you knitters!


Yesterday I went in to Fletcher Allen for my annual check up. And I took along some scarves.

HRBP scarves

TWENTY-FIVE scarves to be exact! I couldn’t have done this without all of you. Seriously, I couldn’t knit 25 scarves on my own. Funds from the sale of these scarves will go to supporting the outreach and research of the High Risk Breast Cancer program of vermont. That’s the research group to which I’m donating samples. I, the doctors, nurses, and other patients all thank you. Especially the ones who stopped me and my giant bag of scarves and asked what they were :-D

My mom had breast cancer when she was just 35. We get kind of twitchy when some scientists recommend that because of the metal stress of getting mammograms and biopsies women should wait until they’re older to start screening. If my mom had waited until she was older, she’d be gone. There’s no way around that fact. The cancer they found in her was a type that didn’t form lumps. But by 35 she already had 3 infected lymph nodes. They’re starting to think there may be benign cancers that don’t spread or cause trouble, but this wasn’t one of those cancers. I know it’s a huge balancing act in medicine: the cost of screening for diseases, the stresses they put on patients (even a fine needle biopsy can get infected) and the actual risk of a disease all need to be balanced against the actual dangers and risks to a patient.

But if you’re in a high risk group, or over the recommended age – go get your mammogram already! They’re the gold standard for tracking cancer. And they work best if you have a baseline one – something they can compare future mammograms against and look for changes. Sure, they’re not comfortable, but I honestly think your life is worth a few seconds of discomfort, don’t you?

And also, let’s all TALK about these things. I’m astonished at the number of friends I know who have family under 40 diagnosed with breast cancer. I think that if we can all talk about our experiences, and those of our friends and family, that’ll take the stigma off the disease. I remember my mom saying the same thing when she was diagnosed, I’m sure things are better now. But I still feel the more we talk about it the less people will be afraid to ask questions, see their doctors, and get screened.

Once again, I can’t say it enough. Thank You!
HRBP scarves2


I’m starting to have a LOT of scarves

pile o scarves

Which is good, because we only have one month left to collect scarves to help fund the high risk breast cancer program.*

If you’re knitting a scarf please try and get it to me before May 14th. If you need my address again just send me an e-mail or drop a note here!

And if you’re just learning about my scarf drive now, you can check out all the details. One month is still plenty of time to knit a scarf!

scarves on a line

*Ok, only one month until my appointment anyway. They collect scarves year ’round. But I don’t plan on going back for another year…

How’s your scarf coming?

I’m just popping in here to remind you all that I’m still collecting scarves to fund cancer research. There’s plenty of time to knit a scarf in support of breast cancer research if you want to help out. I need to have all scarves at my house by May 15th, so that means we have two more months.

I finished my first scarf last month:
zaftig wisp1

And am planning another one, just as soon as I finish a certain shawl I’ve been working on for awhile…

Just in case you don’t remember The High Risk Breast Program of Vermont accepts donated scarves and sells them at the Davis Center on UVM’s main campus over each winter. All the proceeds go towards their educational newsletter, data collection, patient-related research, and program coordination costs.

You can see the original post here and there’s still plenty of time to join our cause!

Finished Objects

Once the steeking was done there wasn’t much left. I grafted the underarms, wove in the ends, and attached 11 little brown buttons.

plum tree2

I definitely recommend Plum Frost if you’re looking to try a little colorwork. And if you don’t want to cut up your knitting the pattern includes pullover directions too.

plum tree4

Now I have another finished cardigan. I admit I’m loving my cardigans more than my pullovers in this weird, warm winter that Vermont is experiencing. I love the warm brown shetland wool of this sweater, the pretty red and purple in the colorwork. It’s a great cardigan, lighter weight than many of my other sweaters. It was perfect for strolling around outside while I was in South Carolina for training last week.

plum tree1

Of course the locals thought I was crazy. They were all wearing coats and hats and mittens…

While I was traveling I also finished my first scarf for the HRBP cancer research fundraiser*.

zaftig wisp2

The pattern is Knitty’s Wisp. Instead of the silk/mohair yarn I used Plymouth yarn Worsted Tweed. I also cast on a different number of stitches and left out the eyelets along the edges. Other than that it’s just exactly the same…

*It’s certainly not too late to knit a scarf if you still want to get involved!

Scarves for cancer research!

Buried at the bottom of yesterday’s post was a question asking if people wanted to donate scarves for breast cancer research. I’ve had plenty of positive feedback so I’m starting a scarf drive! I spoke with Shaleen* who organizes the scarves for the HRBP this morning and here are the details:

  • The High Risk Breast Program of Vermont accepts donated scarves year round, and sells them at the Davis Center on UVM’s main campus from September to whenever-it-gets-warm.
  • The proceeds go towards their educational newsletter, data collection, patient-related research, and program coordination costs.
  • In one year they raised over $3600 to support the HRBP.
  • Their scarf supply is very low right now, and they’d love to get more!

So here is what I’m proposing: if you want to help out leave a comment here. Then go make a scarf! I’ll collect all the donated scarves and take them with me when I go in for my May appointment. You can be certain that I’ll have a blog post or three about the scarves I receive and the looks on the faces at the center when I show up with a pile ‘o scarves! You’ll be asked for your e-mail address when commenting- it’s kept private but I can see it**. I’ll send my mailing address to everyone who wants to participate. Just send me your hand made scarf by the beginning of May so I have them all when I go for my next appointment on May 15th.

Scarf Specifics

  • Knit, crochet (probably even woven!) scarves are welcome.
  • They ask for high quality hand made scarves.
  • Use your own best judgement, I’m not going to be a yarn snob here.
  • There are NO color, texture, etc… requirements.
  • I suspect it would be ok to put a little care label on your scarf.
  • Remember these are being sold to the general public.

Questions? Let me know! And feel free to help spread the word.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
Scarf size: please send adult sized scarves as these are being sold on a college campus.
Other items: They are only collecting scarves. The sale display isn’t set up to properly show off hats, cowls, etc…
Spreading the word: Feel free to link this post where ever you like, and to share the drive with people you know in real life know as well.

*The woman named on the website no longer works with the program. But the number listed is still good. If you want to send your scarf directly to them you’ll have to call her and see if arrangements can be made.

**If you left a comment yesterday saying you wanted to help out, I’ve already got your name :-)

breast cancer research

Maybe you’ve heard about this on the news, but in case you weren’t aware, the Susan G. Komen foundation is pulling the funding they provided to Planned Parenthood for mammograms (NPR story here)

This seems like as good an opportunity as any to talk about breast cancer screenings and research – a matter close to my heart.

I’m pretty careful about where I donate money. And I want as much of my donation as possible to go to the stated goal (as opposed to fundraising, or overhead) And the Komen foundation, like many other big name non-profit fundraisers has it’s fair share* of expenses. If we look at the numbers provided by the Better Business Bureau we can see that the CEO gets $481K. Ok, so maybe lots of CEO’s feel they need that kind of paycheck. We can also see that 84% of funding used for their programs (other 16% on admin and fundraising). But what exactly ARE their programs? Of that amount: 46% is spent on education while only 33.5% on research, 13% on screening, and 7.5% on treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I think breast cancer education is important. But I’m curious, how much of that 46% is spent on flyers to hand out at doctor’s offices and how much of it is spent on making pink water bottles and other paraphernalia?**

So anyway, this is mostly just a warning – be CAREFUL with your donated dollars. Think about what you want your money to go towards, and then see if the organization you’ve chosen has goals similar to yours. Just because Komen uses the slogan “for the cure”*** doesn’t mean all their fundraising is going towards research, or even treatment…

So, now maybe you’re wondering where I recommend you donate (if not, that’s fine) Personally I like the High Risk Breast Program of Vermont. Yeah, that’s right: of Vermont. Vermont may be small but Fletcher Allen has a great clinical research facility. And their breast cancer research program would be happy to put your money to good use. There’s a secure donation button right on that page.

I admit I’m personally invested in this program, I’m actually a patient. My mom had breast cancer when she was just 35 and because of that I am at high risk. While early mammograms aren’t necessary for everyone I had my first at the ripe old age of 27. I’m on an annual routine of them, alternated every 6 months with ultrasound screenings. Beyond that I’m donating blood samples for breast cancer research. Every few years they take samples and I spend hours filling out surveys and questionnaires. Whether I am someday diagnosed with cancer, or if I’m one of the lucky ones who gets passed by, either way my samples and my personal information can be used to check for DNA markers, lifestyle triggers, and other possible causes of breast cancer.

So if you’re looking for somewhere to send money for breast cancer research, I highly recommend The High Risk Breast Program of Vermont.

But you know what else you can do? Knit a scarf! Yup! The hospital gift shop has a rack where they sell high quality, hand knit scarves – and the money goes to their breast cancer research program. Check out the information box on the left side of that same page. If you’re interested in knitting a scarf for them, leave a comment here. If I get a few of you who want to help out I’ll contact them myself and organize a little scarf drive. Does that sound like fun?

*or possibly more than it’s fair share, depending on your point of view
**this is speculation on my part. Maybe those are all donated? Maybe advertizing comes in as an admin expense not education?
***In fact, they’ve sued other non-profits using that term. Thanks guys…