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Knit to Heal support group lets cancer patients relax and learn

A woman sits on a couch knitting.

/ by UK HealthCare

A new support group at UK Markey Cancer Center is drawing on an age-old craft to help those navigating the emotional and physical challenges of cancer find support and stress relief.

Registration is now open for Knit to Heal, a closed eight-week support group for cancer patients and survivors that will meet from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Thursdays starting Sept. 20. Experience is not required; participants will learn to knit at the first meeting, which will run two hours instead of the regular 90 minutes.

“When you have busy hands, you have busy mouths,” said Joan Scales, the Markey psych-oncology supervisor and a licensed clinical social worker who is one of the group’s facilitators. “It takes away some of the pressure to contribute,” she said, which makes it easier for everyone to share their insights and experiences in a comfortable and non-threatening environment.

Benefits of knitting

Many researchers and knitting enthusiasts have cited the therapeutic benefits of knitting. This includes lowering blood pressure, reducing heart rate and fostering a relaxed and meditative state, which is created through knitting’s rhythmic movement.

Participants can experience the therapeutic benefits of knitting while also learning about and discussing cancer-related issues. Scales will share an educational topic to start the conversation, and each weekly session will focus on a different theme, such as treatment side effects, emotional side effects and relationships.

UK HealthCare physical therapist Beth Butcher and oncology nurse Stacy Richey, both avid knitters, will help lead the group and offer knitting instruction.

“Knitting lets you relax within a group,” said Butcher, who has worked with cancer patients at UK HealthCare for nearly 25 years and has been knitting for 10. “The knitting community is generally a very supportive group. It lets you feel more comfortable talking to others while you‘re part of that.”

In addition to the potential benefits of peace and relaxation, she said, knitting also “gives you something tangible and concrete at the end,” which can be rewarding.

Richey has 20 years of experience in oncology nursing. “Her oncology experience and her knitting experience will be a great addition to the group,” Scales said.


Knit to Heal will meet in Room 306 of the Whitney-Hendrickson Building. All supplies will be provided.

Preregistration is required, and space is limited to 10. Call 859-323-2798.

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