An update from the lab!
Why a pink Denise kit?
Breast cancer strikes often and it strikes close to home. Awareness and education is crucial, but so is research funding. Five dollars from your purchase of this pink Denise kit goes directly and entirely to breast cancer research through the S.D. Ireland fund. Every dollar makes a difference. Please watch this video to see how:
Linda Krag, owner, Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needles
In March of 1996, I found a lump in my breast. It was a terrifying moment, even before I was sure it was cancer. We called my brother-in-law, who is an oncological surgeon and researcher specializing in breast cancers. At that time, David was traveling around the world presenting his new technique of sentinel node detection – a breakthrough technique that minimizes undue removal of lymph nodes during breast cancer surgery, resulting in less pain, fewer long-lasting side effects, and faster recovery after surgery. When we got through to him, he was presenting at a conference in Florida; he made an announcement asking if there were any surgeons from Charlottesville in the audience.
For my first round with breast cancer, surgery was all that was required – no chemo, no radiation. Eight years later, three years after buying the Denise company, I found a lump in the other breast. Once again we called on David for help and guidance. My surgeon, whom David had met at that Florida conference, was now well versed in David’s technique for detecting the sentinel node, but after my mastectomy, more cancer cells were found, and I was assigned a full treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. For sixteen weeks I watched my body deteriorate in ways I never imagined possible. I took refuge in my knitting when I was unable to work. I knitted my way through infusions, nausea and fatigue, finding solace in the soft fibers and gentle rhythm of the needles.
One of the great joys that came from this otherwise disagreeable experience was the outpouring of love and support I received from family and friends. My mother-in-law came down from Vermont for two months to help care for me while my husband was at work. My daughter, Ellen, cheered me with visits and phone calls. Emily and her husband, Jon, took over the helm at Denise, and I was wrapped in shawls knitted with love and prayers as my knitting community supported me in the months of treatment and illness.
The idea for the pink kit arose when Emily was on a writer’s retreat with Cat Bordhi, who has also gone through the breast cancer experience and whose grace and clarity of thought always leads to great things. It was one of those ideas that was completely natural: a wonderful way of extending the comfort I felt from knitting and from my community of knitters, a way of passing on joy to others while giving back to those who worked so hard to provide me with the best treatments available.
It is estimated that one in eight women will develop breast cancer. You probably know someone who has been through it, or may yourself have been affected. In our family, three women have been through the diagnosis and treatment ordeal: my mother-in-law, my mother, and me. We wish everyone had someone like David to call on, someone who is at the cutting edge of research in the field and who can not only translate the medical lingo into understandable language, but who is focused on making both surgery and follow-up treatment more effective and less debilitating.
David Krag, M.D. and the S.D. Ireland Cancer Research Fund
I know David primarily as my fun-loving, sparkly-eyed brother-in-law who, like me, loves a good cup of coffee and spending time with his family. My experiences with breast cancer, though, have introduced me to a different side of David, one I am immensely proud of and grateful for. David’s research is dedicated to finding ways to both diminish the side effects of successful cancer treatments and eradicate cancer-related deaths. His sentinel node detection technique is now preferred by physicians worldwide because of its ease and accuracy. David’s current research focuses on finding effective chemotherapy treatments that attack only cancer cells rather than every cell in the body, resulting in fewer side effects and more positive outcomes.
Unfortunately, Federal funding for cancer research has been severely reduced in the past few years. Research is costly, but not doing research is costlier in lives. Having the preliminary research to present to grant committees is an intense challenge while trying to keep the research afloat and a team intact. David says, “The big leaps and breakthroughs of science are often achieved by the most risky and speculative research. Donated funds allow immediate action on new ideas.”
Enter Scott Ireland, and his wife, Kim. After Scott received treatment for melanoma from David at the University of Vermont, Scott and Kim were so impressed by his cutting-edge research that they created an endowed Professorship in Surgical Oncology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and made David the first recipient. They subsequently created the S.D. Ireland Cancer Research Fund, which is very unusual in that it pays all its own administrative costs, funneling all donated monies directly into research. That’s where your contribution from the proceeds of this kit comes in. Five dollars of your purchase price of a pink Denise kit goes, one hundred percent, to research through the S.D. Ireland Fund. The purchase of a pink Companion Set contributes $2, and pink long cords $1 to the Fund. As a company, we donate an additional percentage of our entire annual income to the Fund. Any additional contribution you can make will also go where it is needed most, to pay the ongoing costs of research to find more effective and less debilitating treatments for breast cancer.
Words of hope
When I asked David recently what made him choose breast cancer as his focus of research he said, “This disease affects young, old and everyone in between. People wake up in the morning ready for a beautiful day and find a lump in the breast. No way. This has to be fixed. The breast cancer problem is completely solvable. There are great researchers with great ideas and teams of doctors ready to deliver what comes out of the research labs. It only has a price tag. Every single dollar is meaningful. That single donated dollar connects the donor with all the other caring people that want this problem to be eradicated.”
Thank you for joining us in supporting research to not only find better treatments for ourselves and for our children, but to eliminate the fear of breast cancer all together. Be happy, be healthy, and take joy in your knitting and your life!
Sincerely enjoying knitting and hope you are too,