Cambodia Knitted Knockers – a whimsically-named group of volunteers who knit artificial breasts from cotton for women who have undergone mastectomies or lumpectomies – is planning to carry on with their mission.
The group knits them for women who have all or part of their breasts removed as part of their breast cancer treatment or as a preventive measure by those at very high-risk for breast cancer.
Vorn Pichchanrathna, one of the co-founders, formed the group in July 2022, along with some of her friends in Phnom Penh, to help make life easier for women who have undergone lumpectomies or mastectomies.
Pichchanrathna said the group aims to provide an option to those who have just undergone surgery and are preparing to get external silicone breast prosthesis or undergo breast reconstruction surgery.
She added that artificial breasts can help reduce worries about appearances for women who have lost breasts, and it helps to encourage them to return to normal life again soon after treatment.
“I’m happy, and even though Knitted Knockers is not a huge thing, it can help some women regain their confidence, so when they have surgery they do not have to worry about anything or feel even more depressed," she said.
Cotton-made Knitted Knockers are soft and easy to use, she added, noting that they are different from artificial breasts made of silicone, which are hot, sweaty and uncomfortable in hot weather – and also difficult to find in Cambodia.
Users can wear the artificial breasts with a regular bra and can wash them by hand or in a machine. Alternatively, they can add or remove cotton to the desired size and also add weight by placing stones or coins in them through the cotton holes.
Since its inception in July, Cambodia Knitted Knockers has donated 52 pairs to Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope. The volunteers who knitted the artificial breasts were all from "Phnom Penh Stitch’n’Bitch" – a social club for those who like to knit or sew.
Their second project will start in October and they plan to donate the knitted knockers to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh.
As far as future plans go, Pichchanrathna said her team will continue to produce the artificial breasts and hopes to donate them to other major hospitals in Phnom Penh, such as Calmette Hospital.
For anyone who is interested in joining Cambodia Knitted Knockers to volunteer to knit artificial breasts or who wishes to donate money or help organise a fundraiser, or help in any other way, they can be contacted by email at: [email protected]