It may sound unusual, but knitting is one way to cope with difficult experiences, such as undergoing cancer treatment. Rhythmic and relaxing, knitting can sooth the mind and soak up the downtime that's a big part of cancer treatment, according to Holly Gautier, RN, a nurse and director of the Cancer Supportive Care Program at Stanford.
"It’s the repetitive motion that you have with knitting... You're focused on the stitching and your mind becomes somewhat blank – it really feels good to be making something new," Gautier explained to me recently.
Although she administers a slew of programs - from yoga to art - Gautier said she's particularly excited about a new knitting class, which meets weekly at the Stanford Cancer Center. It's free and open to all cancer patients and their families — not just those being treated at Stanford.
The class is led by a volunteer knitters, who provide supplies and teach the basic stitches. They can even accompany patients to treatment rooms to answer questions or undo an error, Gautier said. And they're happy to put together "knitting-to-go" care packages for those who can't stay.
While participants are welcome to work on other projects, such as scarves and hats, the class is currently making squares to create a quilt to raffle off at an upcoming benefit for the Cancer Survivorship Program. Gautier said the quilt project provides patients with an opportunity to give back - something that nearly all patients yearn to do.
Although the first session last Tuesday drew eight female patient-knitters, Gautier said she hopes other patients and caregivers, particularly men, stop by in coming weeks. More details on the Knitting with Friends program can be found here.