Local Charity Seeks Sewists, Knitters and Crocheters to Donate Finished Hats & Head Scarves for Cancer Patients

Filed under: Local News |

Volunteer Jody Wagner of Racine

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Operation Chemo Comfort, whose mission is to provide psychological and physical support to cancer patients, seeks hand-knit and -crocheted hats, in addition to sewn head scarves, turbans and caps for its spring drive, which ends June 3.

The group has no restriction on color or patterns. It asks that crafters use lightweight yarns (bamboo, silk, linen, cotton) and fabrics for summer wear.

Milwaukee donors may drop off finished hats or head scarves year-round at Knitting Knook, Cream City Yarn, Patched Works, Alverno College (mary.reese@alverno.edu) and the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center (klexow@mcw.edu). Operation Chemo Comfort volunteers also biannually pick up donations in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Appleton, Racine, Kenosha and northern Illinois.

These practical items may help minimize the distress and psychological consequences of hair loss. Forty-seven percent of female patients consider this to be the most traumatic aspect of chemotherapy, according to a 2010 study by Swiss dermatology and trichology researcher Ralph Trueb, MD.

“I know from talking to our patients that chemotherapy-induced alopecia hits hard. Women especially are so emotionally connected to their hair. So, when I sew or knit, I’m selecting materials and patterns that I know will make patients feel good, as well as look good,” said Kelsey Lexow, Operation Chemo Comfort co-founder, and Medical College of Wisconsin research assistant.

Cancer survivor Melanie Vasquez concurred that a beautiful hat may boost the self-esteem, in addition to providing support.

“It’s not just a hat. It’s the love and care that goes into making these items. It lets the cancer survivor know that they aren’t alone, which is really important,” Vasquez said.

Operation Chemo Comfort has biannual drives for handcrafted items. It also makes and disseminates care packages with special products for patients undergoing chemotherapy, such as hard candy, hand sanitizer and lip balm. At this time, there are no drop-off sites for these items. Email the group at operationchemocomfort@gmail.com to arrange pickup or drop-off.

At the end of its 2016 fall drive, Operation Chemo Comfort delivered a near-2,000 cap and head scarf donation to the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center, which is affiliated with eastern Wisconsin’s only academic medical center. Patients come around the region for treatment and the scarves and hats are very popular.

Operation Chemo Comfort offers comfort goods and services to patients who have been affected by cancer for the purpose of supporting their psychological and physical well-being. It seeks in-kind donations, organizes collection and distribution drives and supports wellness programs to enact its mission.