Real Life

HELPING HANDS: How Sue Gillies and her volunteers are helping cancer survivors feel confident again

‘’We make knitted knockers with love!’’
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Sue Gillies and her group of friends used to spend their Sunday mornings at the Charleville community hall, in southwestern Queensland, having a chinwag over a cuppa and leisurely knitting, crocheting and sewing quilts, hats and clothes but now, with balls of wool strewn all over the place, it looks more like a yarn factory!

The group, who go by the name the Sunday Sisters, gather weekly to spin more than a good yarn, making dozens of knitted bra inserts, dubbed “knitted knockers”, a project that’s become Sue’s passion and part of her life since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019.

“The BreastScreen bus only comes to Charleville once every two years and I nearly missed it because we had a trip to Broome booked. But we had to cancel last minute,” 70-year-old Sue tells Woman’s Day.

“The gods must’ve been looking down on me because after my mammogram, one week later I got the call to say they could see a lump and I needed further tests.”

Those test results brought the grim news that Sue did indeed have breast cancer. Despite the devastating diagnosis, she took on her cancer battle head-on.

“I was lucky in a way – I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiotherapy. I opted for a double mastectomy to rid me of all the cancer and prevent any recurrence,” explains Sue.

“I opted for a double mastectomy to rid me of all the cancer and prevent any recurrence.”

(Image: ABC News)

The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-five credits her family and husband, Peter, 70, for their unconditional love and support throughout her breast cancer journey.

“It was a big decision but it was the right one and I was in hospital for eight weeks recovering.”

Sue also credits her gorgeous group of friends, the Sunday Sisters, for their care and kindness, bringing her joy on her darkest days.

“When I had my double mastectomy, it felt strange not having anything out front – I’d gone from being busty to barely there!

“It can be cruelly confronting and part of me didn’t feel womanly any more,” Sue explains.

Then, one day, her friend Chrissy called with a novel idea.

The knitted prosthesis is soft enough to wear post-mastectomy.

(Image: Supplied)

“‘We’re going to make you knitted knockers,'” Sue recalls her saying, with a chuckle, to which she promptly replied, “What the heck is that?”

Made from cotton stuffed with soft padding, the knockers slide into the bra cup to bring confidence, give comfort and support, prevent rubbing and “give a bit of upfrontage”.

For Sue, it was a life-changing gift.

“The girls made it in bright orange, my favourite colour, and it was so comfortable,” she says, thrilled by the difference it made to her figure, not to mention her mindset.

She’s worn her [knitted knockers ever since.

Excited to share her delight with other breast cancer patients, Sue and her knitting sisters decided to make more inserts for other breast cancer patients so they could have lovely warming knitted knockers to make them feel comfortable, warm and womanly.

The Sunday Sisters have found their knitting niche!

(Image: Supplied)

Making their first batch of 50, they took them to the Mater Hospital in Brisbane, where they were happily received by the doctors and nurses, who donated them to patients in need.

Soon they were inundated with requests!

“They were blown away,” Sue says, remembering a heartfelt and memorable call she received from an appreciative knitted knocker recipient.

“She told me, ‘Thank you – I feel whole and like a woman again,'” Sue recalls, grinning with joy.

To date the Sunday Sisters have made and donated 500 knitted knockers.

Although, since Sue’s diagnosis, other members of the group have been diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s made the friends more determined to keep clicking for their cause and

knitting knockers to bring comfort and hope in difficult times.

“I’m grateful to be alive and want to spread the word that no matter what age, get your boobs checked – it can and will save your life.”

Lend YOUR Helping Hands!

To register for a Knit Kit and help breast cancer survivors smile again, please visit

Donate to Knitted Knockers Australia

Donate yarn to Woman’s Day, 54 Park St, Sydney, NSW, 2000

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