Former Wisconsin prisoner Kurt Stapleton started crocheting hats in prison and now makes them for cancer patients, according to an article from ABC 13.
Many chemotherapy patients lose their hair as a result of their treatment. Wendy Oren is one such woman. After beginning her treatment for ovarian cancer, Oren opted for a crocheted chemo cap as opposed to a wig.
Stapleton made the cap for Oren, which she describes as “comfy” and “cozy.” He began crocheting while he was incarcerated for three and a half years for two counts of armed robbery.
“I was addicted to painkillers. I lost my job, and I just hit rock bottom and decided to steal pills from a pharmacy,” Stapleton told ABC 13.
Crocheting helped alleviate Stapleton’s anxiety until his release. He said the art form gave him a purpose. Crocheting also helped him cope with his own father’s cancer diagnosis and eventual death.
“This is kind of my way of helping him, but helping others, because I wasn’t able to do anything for him,” said Stapleton.
Although Oren and Stapleton have never met, his craft connects them.
Aside from being a more comfortable alternative to a wig, the caps also give Oren a bit of added strength. “That is one of the greatest gifts [Stapleton] gave me too, because I have to have so many shots a day in my stomach,” she explained. “I’m not a fan of those, so I grab onto that rib- bon when my husband gives me those shots, and I squeeze it as hard as I can.”
“Kurt is definitely doing something that is very, very, very powerful,” she added.
It takes Stapleton about an hour and a half to crochet a cap. He has further developed his creativity by making blankets, pillows and stuffed animals, according to the report. He aspires to set a positive example for his three-year-old son by “[showing] the world how he took something bad and stitched it into something beautiful,” ABC 13 reported.
“I wish I could go back and tell the people I’ve hurt that I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” said Stapleton, while discussing his rehabilitation. “But, I also wish they could see me and what I’m doing with my life.”