Cancer survivor hand-knits breast prostheses

By  | 

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (CBS) A Southern California woman is giving fellow breast cancer survivors around the world a reason to be thankful. The retired textile artist knits bra inserts designed for women undergoing mastectomies.

Every day, Pat Anderson sits in her favorite chair and does what she does best.

"I've been knitting since I was about eight," she said.

Now 87, she uses her knitting skills to help survivors of breast cancer just like her.

"I was diagnosed in the summer of 2006. Because of the location of the tumor, I needed to have a mastectomy," she said.

During her recovery, Anderson tried a number of prostheses from silicone to socks. But nothing ever fit or felt quite right until she crafted a solution of her own. Anderson made knitted inserts called "busters" and they worked so well for her, she decided to make them for other women undergoing mastectomies.

"I had been waiting for years for the right retirement project to come along so I could retire and this was perfect," she said.

So Anderson recruited some fellow master knitters and they went to work. Together, they've knitted pairs for women around the world. Anderson has made the most.

"It's approaching a thousand pairs," she said.

That's about 8,000 hours of knitting.

Anderson doesn't charge for "busters." Every set is free.

"A personal gift from one survivor to another," she said.

The hundreds of cards and emails from over the years are thanks enough.

She hopes her creation brings comfort.

"To help them, to make them feel like normal women again and not victims. And I guess that's what I would say, you know, remember we're still the same people we always were," she said.

While Anderson doesn't ask for money for her "busters," she does ask recipients if they'd like to donate money to help pay the postage for the next woman who requests a pair. She gives excess donations to a local hospital's breast cancer program. If you'd like to request a pair of busters, you can email Pat at