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Knitting knockers to make a difference

How we’re providing free prostheses to breast cancer survivors

A handful of staff from Lakeview Hospital and Stillwater Medical Group (SMG) have taken up their needles to help a special group of patients.

We’re not talking medical needles – but rather knitting needles. And the patients in question all have one thing in common: they are breast cancer survivors.

Knitted Knockers are soft and light-weight breast prostheses. And when Lakeview and SMG staff found out about them, they decided to make a difference in the St. Croix Valley.

The group received an initial $1,000 grant from the Lakeview Health Foundation. That paid for the 100% cotton yarn and fiber fill used to make the knitted knockers. And this spring, the grant was renewed. That means the knitters can keep making more.

All “knitted knockers” follow a pattern shared online by the founding Knitted Knockers nonprofit. Then, before they are given to survivors, they are affixed with a label. That label is stamped with the words “Handmade with love.” And it is signed by the knitter who made it.

“We offer them free of charge to any patients who have had mastectomies,” said registered nurse Alyce Brekke. She started the knitting group at Lakeview and SMG. And she says she can knit a knocker in a couple of hours, depending on the cup size.

Alyce works in the operating room at Lakeview Hospital. But knitters come from areas all over the hospital and clinic. There are staff from departments from same day surgery to medical records.

The Knitted Knockers project is one of 12 “Greatest Need” patient care projects. In spring 2017, the Lakeview Health Foundation gave these projects $114,000. Others include:

Image of Alyce Brekke Alyce Brekke, RN, started the Knitted Knockers group at Lakeview Hospital and Stillwater Medical Group
  • A newborn transport system for Lakeview EMS to bring at-risk babies born in western Wisconsin to Lakeview Hospital
  • Safety bags to dispose of excess opioid pills, which will help stop them from getting into the wrong hands
  • A music therapy program at Lakeview Hospital to help ease pain and reduce stress for patients
  • Comfort blankets for surgery patients who are children or seniors

How you can support Knitted Knockers and other patient care projects

Find out more about the Lakeview Health Foundation or make a donation at

If you are a HealthPartners colleague, you can support any of the 6 HealthPartners foundations through employee giving. Visit or pick up a form from any foundation office.

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