Knitting Together a Caring Life
It’s hard to miss as you stroll through the Artisan’s Loft at The Market at Western Fair District: a table filled with pumpkins painted neon pink.
Sitting beside them is a photograph of a group of dogs wearing pink balloons and the message, “Get those puppies checked!”
It’s Terry Louise Woods’s way of marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month and encouraging as many women as possible to get regular screening mammograms. The display reflects her humor, creativity, and resilience.
Woods was diagnosed with cervical cancer in her 20s and underwent a hysterectomy. Later she had a parotid gland tumor and several skin cancers. In October 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram.
Fortunately, the cancer was caught early and treated successfully with a lumpectomy and radiation. But the experience left her shaken. “I was not in a very good mental state,” she says. “It was December, I was bored and anxious, and I needed something to do.”
She decided to knit. Woods had learned to sew, knit, and crochet as a child, so she knew the basics. She and her husband went out and bought two large bags of yarn and she got to work. “Some of my first attempts were a little wonky and my technique wasn’t great,” she says with a laugh. “But I persevered.”
Before long, she was knitting quickly, creating colorful chunky scarves to give to people who helped her out during treatment. When they started to order items for their friends and family members, she realized that she was onto something. “I tend to make one-of-a-kind pieces,” she says. “I might use the same pattern, but I’ll mix up the yarns and colors. The chances of me replicating anything are very slim!” She did the craft sale circuit for a time, and then found a permanent home at the Market.
Woods donates a portion of the proceeds of her thriving business to the Breast Care Program at St. Joseph’s Hospital, a token of her gratitude for the care she received. “Things keep happening to me, and I keep surviving,” she says. “The knitting and the relationships it brings give me so much joy, I just felt I had to give back.”