I always find myself inspired by people who are dealing with difficult life circumstances in positive ways, especially of course those who are using crochet to help them. I was touched by the story of 83-year-old Donna Harrison who crochets award-winning afghans as she copes with both blindness and breast cancer. I was also touched by a fund that supplies her with the yarn she needs to practice the craft in hospice.

Crocheter Donna Harrison

83-year-old Donna Harrison has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a terminal diagnosis and she is living out her days in hospice. What she does all day long there is she crochets. She loves to make afghans. Her craft work has won prizes at local fairs but more than that she’s proud of being able to handcraft items for her family as well as for others in need. She crochets blankets for other patients in hospice and also for donation to veterans. She crochets in spite of the fact that she can’t see; like many crocheters who have experienced temporary or permanent blindness she just feels her way along stitch by stitch, creating beautiful work.

Health Benefits of Crochet

Of course I’m always interested in how crochet helps people with different health issues so I honed in on that part of the news article where I learned about this crafter. Some of the benefits of crochet for Donna are:

  • It keeps her hands busy. This also keeps her mind busy. She says that she simply doesn’t think about her terminal diagnosis; she focuses on one stitch at a time instead.
  • It provides exercise for her hands, arms and fingers. No matter what your diagnosis it is always best to stay as physically active as possible and this is one way that the elderly woman can do that.
  • It allows Donna to keep giving to others. This helps her to feel useful and productive even in the face of an illness that requires help from hospice care.
  • Yarn connects Donna to the world around her. The sense of isolation that can come at the end of life is staved off because crafting for her family and others helps maintain that sense of connection.

Help from the Oxford Healthcare Hospice Fund

Donna is able to crochet many afghans because she receives yarn support from the Oxford Healthcare Hospice Fund. This fund raises money to give specifically to those people who are in a hospice situation. People at this stage of illness often face financial stress and the fund helps meet a variety of needs as well as to provide some extras, like yarn, that improve the quality of life and joy for the patient.


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


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