Carol puts a lid on chemo therapyTuesday, August 28, 2012 by: Connie Carello
“It really didn’t hit me until the May long weekend when my sister had told me that she was diagnosed with cancer that I should start knitting Chemo hats,” 65 year-old Carol Lewis said.
After living in several different cities and towns, Lewis has returned to the Sault Ste. Marie community as a souvenir gift shop attendee for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train.
“I was aware that my sister would lose her hair after they had informed her that she would have to undergo six weeks of chemo treatment. I recall asking a friend of mine for a chemo hat pattern years ago and I hadn’t done much with it. The next morning after my sister informed me, was the day I said, hey I am going to do something with that pattern!”
From a young age, Lewis can recall knitting sweaters in the early 80’s, “I remember I would never gage my sizes and as a result, would end up with sweaters that were much larger than I had intended. After a while, I gave it up and about ten years ago, I started to knit dish towels.”
For several years, Lewis’ knit dish clothes for close friends and co-workers but never found the satisfaction in preparing them, “It was a nice gesture to donate the towels to people that I knew, but I never felt fulfilled. The opportunity to knit Chemo hats especially for people that could really use one makes me feel like I am doing something. So I never knitted a dish towel again!”
Her talent and hobby for knitting has enabled Lewis to share compassion and sympathy with not only cancer patients.
Recently Lewis was asked by her massage therapist to knit a hat for a women suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
“When my therapist dropped off the hat, he informed me that I should have seen the smile on her face, and the look in her eyes!”
Going through several of her previous samples, Lewis enthusiastically explains all the various colours, sizes, and customized orders she has knitted over the course of the last few months.
Since July 11 Lewis has knitted 43 in total and can usually knit one per day.
“One ball of yarn usually is enough for one hat and I have recently started sizing them out for children. I chose cotton as it allows the skin to breath and is soft to the touch. I hope to make several different colours for the upcoming fall season and decorate them with different brooches to add that extra special touch.”
For many chemo patients, losing hair is a reality they must face.
Many of them may feel overwhelmed by the treatment as it not only alters their physical condition but outward appearance.
Considering hair may be closely tied to identity, the loss may feel like the loss of a security blanket, or in some cases, a limb.
“Several of my close friends have been hit with cancer, aside from my sister. For me, it seems as though their hair has become a part of their being, it is part of their dignity," said Lewis. "Maybe the hats will allow those that wear them to feel pretty again”
Lewis’ hats are not a replacement, but rather an acknowledgement of the loss and a hopeful sentiment that hair growth will recommence soon.
“I would really like to present notes with the hats, to make them more personable. Everyone wants to know that they are loved and hopefully the hats will make them feel better, ensure them that someone is thinking of them,” Lewis said.
To help donate to Lewis’ cause, the Canadian Cancer Society would appreciate donations of cotton yarn, flowers, and brooches to enable Lewis as well as other volunteers to make several more hats for the upcoming winter season.
Those interested in having custom made hats by Lewis can also contact the Canadian Cancer Society directly by phoning (705) 253-4781.