Knitted with Love: University Hospital Lab Employees Knit Caps for Cancer Patients
In the 100-degree heat this past summer at Otter Creek Park, most people wouldn’t have been thinking ahead to Christmas time and warm knit hats. But that is when University of Louisville Hospital Lab employee Phyllis McCurdy started knitting her individual contribution of more than 60 hats in what has become a departmental holiday tradition.
The special project connects Lab staff, who knit and donate warm holiday hats, with cancer patients at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Phyllis said her special inspiration this year was to honor co-worker Gilda Fiege, who died of cancer this past summer.
This is the fourth year for the hat-knitting project, which began with a simple bright idea sparked by staffer Mary Embry to bring some holiday cheer to the cancer patients next door to her facility.
The hats were a particularly good gift choice because cancer treatments can cause hair loss, and the patients can get cold during chemotherapy or radiation treatments, as well. The holiday project has grown from just two participating knitters and 25 hats in its first year to ten “hat makers” and a record 181 hats for Christmas 2011.
Lab employee Valerie Amundson, who knitted her 30 hats while traveling long hours in the car and on the beach in Florida, said she felt that making the hats is representative of the caring nature of the Cancer Center itself. “We have a great cancer center here where patients are truly recognized as individuals so it makes sense to give them a variety of hats to choose from that are as individual as they are.”
This year’s hat drive was even more of a team effort than usual. Not only did many knitters join in to get yarn donated and to make the hats but staffer Cheryl Riley even learned how to weave and made a special basket to carry the hats in when they were being distributed to patients on December 19.
Valerie said she believes handing out the holiday hats is just a small way to give a little solace to the cancer patients. “It’s just a little reminder that for at least those few minutes, their day will be a little brighter. It’ll bring a smile to their faces.”
To see more heartwarming photos of this special gesture of love, click here.
Lab employees who participated in the project include: (pictured) Angela Sibio, Valerie Amundson, Phyllis McCurdy, Rose Weckman and Danielle Kyle. (Not pictured): Tondra Young, Karen Leanhart, Cindy Swartz, Mary Embry, Stacey Herndon and Cheryl Riley.