Knitting Circle Rallies Around Cancer Patients

By Anne Haddad
Publications Manager

Editor’s Note: Trisha Kendall, R.N., B.S.N., O.C.N., has been named a finalist in the Daily Record’s 2011 Health Care Heroes Awards Program for her work with the UMMC Knitting Circle.

Once a month, on her day off from work as an oncology nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Trisha Kendall gets involved in a different kind of patient care. Kendall and several other Medical Center staff from various departments make up the UMMC Knitting Circle, which knits hats and scarves for cancer patients who have lost their hair temporarily as a side effect of chemotherapy.

The knitters include pharmacists, lab techs, dietary techs and even a few patients from the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Kendall keeps a stash of the handcrafted caps at work, and lets patients choose one they like. She calls the program “Amber’s Cozy Caps,” named after Amber Schad, a former patient who developed a love of hats after leukemia treatment caused her hair to fall out. So far, the group has produced hundreds of caps – too many to count.

One of Kendall’s current patients, Vaiju Sisodia, who is being treated for leukemia, recently joined the knitting group. A beginning knitter, Sisodia said she was inspired to help fellow patients and find a way to pass the time while she was in the hospital for treatment.

“It helps to provide a lot of different types of caps,” Sisodia says. “And I’m learning something, too.”

Kendall always brings extra knitting needles and yarn and gives on-the-spot lessons even to people who have never knitted before.

“The Knitting Circle supports a healthy work environment by providing a way to relieve stress and do something positive for our patients at the same time,” Kendall says. “I have really enjoyed meeting staff from so many different departments. Volunteers from area churches, community groups and a number of cancer survivors also contribute hats to the project.”

The UMMC Knitting Circle meets on the first Wednesday of the month from noon to 2 p.m. in the University of Maryland Medical Center. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, contact Trisha Kendall at 410-328-5420 or

9 thoughts on “Knitting Circle Rallies Around Cancer Patients

  1. My sister in undergoing chemo for stage 3 colon cancer .She is starting to loose her hair ,a neighbor knitted her one but its all she has.She lives in frederick md and has her chemo at a out patient center and her main treatment at hopkins .We have tried to find caps that arent to hot or bulky.Any suggestions

  2. A nice, lightweight yarn with an eyelet pattern would be less bulky for her. Try a bamboo or cotton yarn and try an eyelet pattern. This might be one that is nice

    I’d be glad to look at our stock and see if there is something more lightweight for her. Email me with an address to send it to her!

  3. We feel so lucky. My brother, who has a mild intellectual disability, has been diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia and as a result can take Gleevec. This medication is almost without side-effects at the moment. It would have been very tough for him to cope with chemo, due to his disability. It is a privilege to have this kind of treatment to rely on.

  4. I know that it is never a good thing to get a cancer diagnosis, but that is a positive way to look at things. I will say that we have had patients with disabilities here and it is a pleasure for all of the staff. My brother has fragile X and I know what you mean though. I think I wouldn’t want to leave him there by himself. Anyway, good luck with things! We’re hear if you need us.

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  7. Hello Ms. Kendall,

    Keep up the good work! I live in Portand,Oregon (recently moved from CA). I am knitting a LAP BLANKET for my 15 year old nephew who is 5’10” or so. So far, it is 50 inches long, 42 inches wide. It is worsted yarn(Red Heart Yarn).

    He lives in California and wants a Lap Blanket when he is studying so legs are not cold.

    I would like to give it to him for Christmas if I can.

    Perhaps sometime I can help you knit something.

    Thank you,

  8. Is there a site or group near College Park? I would love to be involved in this activity. Thank you.

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