When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, her treatment began with a difficult regimen of chemotherapy. Normally a take-charge woman, at a family picnic that spring my sister was too tired to join in any activities and spent the afternoon sitting in a lawn chair browsing through a knitting magazine. At one point I sat with her and looked over her shoulders as she flipped through the pages. She paused at one of the back pages and pointed out a small advertisement for a knitting weekend in northern Wisconsin scheduled for shortly after Labor Day.
|My sister’s knitting bag was
her constant companion.
“Let’s go to that,” she said. “I need something to look forward to.”
The very next day I signed us up. And that fall, we packed up and drove the four hours north from Chicago to Neenah, Wisconsin. We spent the weekend deeply involved in our craft with other knitters, fantastic instructors, and a charming, well stocked shop. For those three days, cancer did not exist.
Throughout my sister’s well fought battle with breast cancer, we never missed our knitting retreats. When the shop started offering them in the spring and the fall, we jumped at the opportunity to double our outings. During the drive north, she often would talk about her fears and the struggles, but when we arrived at our destination, the joy and delight of creating, learning, and simply being together overpowered the presence of cancer for the entire weekend.
My sister lost her battle to breast cancer in the spring of 2006. Her death was a tremendous loss to not only me, but to her wonderful husband, handsome sons, my mom, and my other two sisters.
However, I am so grateful for the craft that allowed her a refuge from cancer, and for the common thread that bound us together during difficult days. This same craft became my refuge as I struggled with my grief.
We all have our stories, and I’d be honored if you would share yours. When has sewing, knitting, or other handwork helped you through difficult times?
P.S. I’m grateful to work for a company that is investing in the fight against this horrible disease. From October 1-5, 30% of all proceeds from the Sew Daily Shop will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc® (www.nationalbreastcancer.org/). Every bit helps.