Barbara Demorest broke down in tears when told that she would not be able to wear anything over her mastectomy scar for at least six weeks after surgery.
Demorest was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and had a mastectomy on one breast, but wasn’t able to have reconstruction surgery right away due to complications. The news left her deeply saddened.
“I was wondering what I was going to do," Demorest told InsideEdition.com. "I called a cancer support line. The woman on the line said you can’t put anything on that scar for six weeks. I was devastated. That was the first time I cried because I wanted to get back to life. I wanted to be normal."
Later that week, Demorest was at the doctor’s office browsing through a traditional breast prosthesis pamphlet when the doctor saw her and said, "Most women aren’t happy with them because they said they can be hot and heavy and expensive."
"I said, 'Well, what I am going to do?' and he said, 'Do you knit?'" Demorest recalled. "He recommended a knitted knocker. He didn’t have any to show or give me but had heard about it."
Later that day, Demorest said she phoned her friend, Phyllis, an avid knitter.
“She said she would find out,” Demorest said. “A week later, I put a scarf in my bra and a loose jacket on and I went to church. Lo and behold, Phyllis walks up with a Victoria Secret bag. I knew what it was."
Demorest headed straight to the bathroom.
“I took out the most beautifully soft, light knitted knocker and I put it in my bra and it changed everything,” Demorest said. “I had a sheer moment of joy. Knowing that I could appear normal changed everything. I immediately took off my jacket and re-engaged with life”
Although Demorest received reconstruction surgery three years later, the experience inspired her to start Knittedknockers.org, which provides the knitted inserts to women all over the U.S. and in 14 other countries.
“I knew immediately that I needed to make this available to doctors' offices and women everywhere. I went back to my doctor and I said to him, 'If I provide these to you, would you hand them out to women?' And he said, 'I would love to,'" Demorest said.
Demorest connected with a group of knitters and Phyllis got to work. They began donating the creations to her doctor and the demand steadily grew.
"They can wear them as soon as the stitches are out. We posted the pattern online so that people could start knitting them for their own communities. We also created a video tutorial on how to make them.”
Her non-profit organization now provides the "knockers" to 250 medical clinics throughout the states. Their tutorial video has been downloaded 420,000 times.
"It’s all free," Demorest said. "We are all volunteers with no paycheck and we do it because we care. One of the great aspects of this is women know a complete stranger cares and for no personal gain made these for them."