Breast Cancer Survivors Create Products to Help Others
Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager Emeritus, Oncology, Social Work
MARCH 09, 2020
Until you have gone through something, you can't really know what is most helpful. This is just as true in Cancer World as it is for dog owners or new homebuyers. Many of us have fantasized about something that would have been helpful during surgical recovery or treatment, and a few people have gone on to actually create a great product. Whether the goal has been to design a comfortable jacket that will hold drains or something to wear during a long recovery that involves casts or uncomfortable equipment or an attractive head covering, there are many new ideas.
Even better than being good options, many of these companies are intent on giving back by returning part of their sales income to cancer organizations.
Clothing & Intimate Apparel
More than a decade ago, Catherine McGrath, a breast cancer survivor and lovely woman, designed a special jacket for patients going through breast cancer recovery and treatment called The Jacki (as opposed to the usual hospital Johnny). I know that I lived in mine for at least a week after the mastectomy and was very appreciative of the comfort and the acceptable fashion look.
Examples include women like Dana Donofree from Philadelphia who, in 2014, started AnaOno, a line of comfortable and sexy wireless bras for breast cancer survivors post-surgery. Intent on providing pretty choices to women who have had mastectomies, lumpectomies, or reconstruction, she has created a lovely collection of choices. As you may know, some insurance companies will pay for three bras per year for women who have had mastectomies and wear a prosthesis. Her website does not state whether her collection qualifies, but it may well.
Other breast cancer survivors have concentrated on other types of products. Sonya Keshwani was not comfortable in a wig and did not like the choices of hats and scarves that she found to cover her bald head during chemo. She went on after treatment to found StyleEsteem Wardrobe, a company devoted to fashionable, beautiful, and fun head wraps for patients going through cancer treatment.
Skin Care & Cosmetics
Still others have taken on cosmetics and skin care. Many of us learned that we needed more makeup during chemo than we were accustomed to using, and some women feel that their skin changes persist. Whether or not that is your situation, you likely are even more interested in only using skin and beauty products that are not going to be harmful or full of potentially scary ingredients. (Do you know the old rule: Don't buy anything with ingredients that you can't pronounce?) One example would be Sarah Kelly, a breast cancer survivor, who — with her sister, Leah Robert, an oncology nurse — started SaltyGirl Beauty.
At BIDMC's Windows of Hope, a specialty shop for men and women with cancer, there are other examples of products that have been thoughtfully designed for cancer patients and survivors. Go in and take a look.