Crocheting against Cancer

Photo by Clayton Huckaby / Kern Valley Sun:
The “Creative Crochet-ettes” pose with the hats that they have crocheted for patients at the City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. Pictured from left to right are Anita Penniman, Martha Rijos, Stella Beaupre, Maria Garcia and Pauline Galindo.


By Clayton Huckaby
Kern Valley Sun

There is a new group of women in the valley crocheting, and they are using their skills to make hats for cancer patients that are being treated at City of Hope.

For those not familiar with the work of City of Hope, they are a cancer hospital and research center that has developed groundbreaking treatments for cancer. City of Hope has multiple practice sites throughout Southern California, but their main campus is located in Duarte, Calif.

City of Hope was founded in 1913 and is one of only 47 comprehensive cancer treatment centers in the United States, as recognized by the National Cancer Institute. It began as a free, nonsectarian tuberculosis sanatorium to aid in the long-term treatment of tuberculosis. With the rise of antibiotics in the mid-1940s, tuberculosis was on the decline, so City of Hope realigned their mission to aid those with cancer. Later, the institute began research and treatment for diabetes and HIV.

Not only does City of Hope help treat cancer patients, but they are also a research center that has contributed immensely to modern cancer treatments. They have pioneered technology that has been used to develop Herceptin, Erbitux, Rituxan and Avastin as well as other cancer treatment drugs. They helped to develop synthetic human insulin which has provided relief to millions of diabetes patients. City of Hoped pioneered bone marrow and stem cell transplants, and their program is now one of the largest and most successful in the United States.

All of this amazing work has been done through the power of philanthropy. This philanthropy has come from numerous large scale and small scale donors. According to their website, “Year after year, foundations, philanthropists, business leaders, global corporations, small businesses and hundreds of thousands of other caring individuals of all ages contribute generously to support the lifesaving work of City of Hope.”

While the large scale donors give a lot of money, it is really the work of everyday people that help to make the patients at City of Hope live a little bit easier. The Creative Crochet-ettes, as they call themselves, are doing just that and crocheting hats for patients undergoing chemotherapy. The group only began at the end of last year, but they are already proving their merit when it comes to philanthropic endeavors.

The idea to crochet hats for cancer patients came when Martha Rijos, one of the members of the group, was visiting her brother Ernest Ramirez at City of Hope. Ramirez was diagnosed with cancer last June, but he is now in remission thanks to one of City of Hope’s lifesaving bone marrow transplants.

According to Rijos, one of the nurses at City of Hope had seen Rijos’ sister-in-law crocheting while her husband was in treatment. The nurse then asked her sister-in-law if she would be willing to make hats for the patients. Rijos’ sister-in-law then contacted Rijos and asked her to take up the cause because she knew she was affiliated with the Creative Crochet-ettes. The group then took up the cause and began creating hats in January of this year. Since January, the group has created close to 40 hats, and Rijos took them to City of Hope to be donated on Saturday, April 29.

The group said that they will be continuing their work for City of Hope so that patients can see that there are people out that are thinking about them and care about their wellbeing. The group was unable to comment on whether they will be taking up other charitable endeavors, but one of the members, Anita Penniman, said, “We’ll see what happens. It’s an adventure.”