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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Cancer is often a terrifying diagnosis, but a group of women in St. Augustine is helping patients soften the blow with hand-knit scarves and hats.

The Happy Hookers and their knitting circle of love meet twice a week inside the Council on Aging. There they knit scarves and spin yarn.

The group has quite the sense of humor-calling itself the Happy Hookers.

"I'm a very happy hooker," said Esther Lindenfeld.

These 'hookers' knit everything from booties for people in hospice, to caps and shawls for cancer patients like Christine Kehr, a breast cancer survivor.

The doctors at Flagler Hospital diagnosed her with breast cancer last year. After losing her hair to chemotherapy, Flagler Patient Navigator Cathy Connor guided Kehr to the cancer closet-a small room filled with donated comfort items from groups all over the community.

"This pink hat was very special to me because I wore it at night sleeping. You don't realize how cold your head can get," Kehr said laughingly.

Now cancer-free, Kehr is giving back too-returning the pink "sleepy hat" that warmed her head and her heart.


"Just having something that they know will help them be braver while they're going through this journey that they're having to go through, just means a whole lot." Connor said.

Kehr thought about keeping the hat, but she decided donate the hat back to the center for a future patient to use.

Kehr called it "a circle of love."

The circle she is referring to continues around the table at the Council on Aging every Tuesday and Thursday, where inch by inch, the 'hookers' hook a little old-fashioned compassion into every scarf, shawl and blanket.

Once a piece leaves their hands they never ask for a thank you-but often the thank yous find them anyway.

"No. No. But it just gives you extra incentive. 'Hey, they really love it.' You know, they really like what we're giving them," Lindenfeld said. "We did the right thing."

They spend their days comforting those coping with the most difficult days of their lives.

"Inside you know. Nobody has to tell you," Lindenfeld said.

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