FORT COLLINS, Colo. — When Deanna Krausse began knitting as a child, she had no idea how important the pastime would become.
"I'm totally addicted to it," Krausse said. "I don't know what I would do without this."
Two years ago, the Fort Collins mom was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. A double mastectomy and chemotherapy left her feeling lost and alone.
"You really lose everything when you have breast cancer: You lose your breasts, you might have to have your ovaries removed, sometimes you're put into menopause early," she said. "So, a lot of that femininity goes out the window."
Fortunately for Deanna, she found Knitted Knockers, a national group connecting knitters and crocheters with breast cancer survivors. Together, volunteers create handmade breast prosthesis for women, giving them a free option to the often uncomfortable and costly medical prosthesis.
"When you're diagnosed with cancer there's something called financial toxicity and people are trying to choose between: Do I feed my kids or do I get a prosthesis which is hundreds of dollars?" said Kathleen Michie, UCHealth Cancer Care program manager. "So she's like, 'Don't worry, you can feed your kids and look good.'"
All of the yarn and time is donated, but the real magic happens during community knit-a-thons where volunteers come as complete strangers, but leave as a tightly knit community of women helping other women.
"I cried quite a few times that first knit-a-thon because it was love of women. I don't even know who these people are and it was a wave of love, like, 'We've got your back,'" Krausse said.
Today, the Northern Colorado group has expanded to hospitals and plastic surgery offices throughout Colorado, most recently helping women in Africa with prosthesis options and breast cancer awareness education.
"I think part of her success is just her energy and her enthusiasm and just the impact that she has on other people's lives," Michie said.
The group has helped thousands of women, evident in the dozens of thank you letters Deanna has received over the two years.
"I feel like I was picked up out of that darkness and just taken straight to not only feeling like a woman again, but feeling like I'm part of a community that I knew I could always tap into," Krausse said. "I wasn't alone anymore."
Knitted Knockers Again is hosting its second annual Knit-a-Thon Saturday, Aug. 17 at the Parker Library from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, contact email@example.com. A GoFundMe has also been created to help the group with supplies.
Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.