Mumbai resident Jayashree Ratan set out to create crocheted prostheses for breast cancer survivors. Her organisation Saaisha India has distributed 5,700 such prostheses for free so far.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in India among women today, and consequently, the number of mastectomy surgeries too has gone up. In India, every four minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Many women who undergo this painful procedure, where the entire breast tissue is removed, often question their sense of self.
While some women have access to silicone breast prostheses, most don’t, and are forced to stuff handkerchiefs and cotton balls in their bras to create an illusion of full breasts. This practice often leads to rashes, infections or painful skin abrasions.
It was with an intention to help such women that Chennai-born Jayashree Ratan started making crocheted prostheses for breast cancer survivors.
Jayashree, who is the founder of Saaisha India, a voluntary organisation that makes such prostheses, says, “Women are under such pressure to look a certain way that they have to undergo this pain as well after a traumatic surgery. That’s why I decided to make crocheted or knitted prostheses.”
Since its launch in 2018, the Mumbai-based organisation has distributed over 5,700 prostheses for free. It has a network of over 270 volunteers from across India, the UAE and the US.
These prostheses are made from 100 percent mercerised cotton yarn, which is soft on the skin and does not cause allergies. Each product can be used for close to two years and is hand washable. The prostheses are available in different cup sizes and fit well into the mastectomy bra.
“We never knew we would touch so many lives by spending just a few hours on each product. That is our biggest reward,” says Jayashree.
Edited by Asha Prakash