ESCONDIDO — Pat Anderson, the 87-year-old founder of Busters, a breast-shaped bra insert provided to breast cancer survivors, isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
The Escondido resident, who founded the project in 2017 and gives the accessory to survivors for free, has knitted more than 650 inserts for women across the country. Now, she’s hoping the public will help her further spread the word so that more breast cancer survivors will be able to benefit from the Busters.
Anderson, a textile artist by trade, came up with the concept of Busters after she survived breast cancer herself. Anderson underwent a double mastectomy in August 2006, shortly before her 74th birthday, she said.
Anderson, who has lived in Escondido since 1982, said the Busters are an “alternative to the commercial silicone prosthetics currently available.”
“I also always refer to Busters as ‘accessories not prosthetics’ and since this is such a feminine project, I use only pastels or subtle ombres when making them,” Anderson said. “No depressing beiges or heavy masculine colors, only cheerful and soft yarns for us.”
Although hundreds of women have benefitted from receiving the free Busters, Anderson noted that it’s not a charity project.
“This is my own, personal project and is not a charity or little housewife’s hobby,” said Anderson, who is originally from Minnesota.
Anderson single-handedly creates five to six Busters per week and has a team of volunteers, who she dubbed “Buzoomers.” Each Buzoomer is an octogenarian, who also survived breast cancer, she said.
“I feel very strongly that this is a project for survivors only since we actually wear them and understand what they can mean to another survivor,” said Anderson, who began knitting when she was just 8 years old and made socks for World War II soldiers.
Although she provides the Busters to survivors for free, she accepts donations to help pay for mailing costs. Since creating the Busters two years ago, Anderson has shipped them to women from all walks of life. She’s also received countless notes of gratitude, each of which she keeps in shoeboxes, Anderson said.
Nadine Campbell of Sandpoint, Idaho, is one of the thankful recipients of the Busters.
“It has been a lifesaving change for me,” said Campbell, who previously used prosthesis, which caused hundreds of dollars. “After finding (Busters) I can wear anything.”
“I think it is a game changer for all of us,” Campbell said. “I was ready to just stay flat forever and mostly home until Pat saved the day. It has given me so much more freedom and comfort. I think she is my angel and I tear up even now when I think of her and her care and sharing of these Busters. She is definitely a life-changer to me.”
Anderson said the topic of breast cancer and “mastectomy is very sensitive and personal.”
“Non-cancer survivors fail to realize that every one of us has been faced with the choice between losing our breasts or losing our lives,” Anderson said. “We will live with the physical and emotional consequences of that for the rest of our lives and it should not be trivialized or treated as a novelty. This can be especially difficult for women who are dating or in a relationship — the patient is not the only one affected by mastectomy.”
For that reason, Anderson plans to continue self-funding the Busters project to help as many women as possible.
“The Busters Project is the most rewarding project I’ve ever developed and is a fitting finale to a 50-year career in fibers and textiles,” Anderson said.
For more information about the Busters or to request one, contact Pat Anderson directly at [email protected].