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Free Mastectomy Pillows and Seatbelt Covers from The Bosom Buddies

Free Mastectomy Pillows and Seatbelt Covers from The Bosom Buddies
Photo by Jan Nelson

The Bosom Buddies: Connie, Jan, Becky and Judy

525. That’s the number of mastectomy pillows the Bosom Buddies have made since August 2016.

Women in 29 states have received their pillows. 4 cancer centers currently keep their pillows on hand to give to mastectomy patients. And new pillow requests come in through this website regularly.

Cancer is a taker.

Breast cancer sometimes takes one or both breasts. It often takes hair. It always has financial cost. And it always steals away sweet time. One woman who went through a bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction, intensive chemo and radiation said to me, “My oncologist said, ‘give me two years of your time and I’ll give you your life back.’”

Two years. Cancer is costly.

The Bosom Buddies know this cost because they have all watched someone they love very much walk the cancer road.

Becky’s daughter, Rachel, was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2016.

Judy’s daughter, Jodi, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.

Jan’s daughter (ME 🙂 ) was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.

Connie’s mom, Janice, fought cancer for years before succumbing to the disease in 2016.

Because these women saw the hard things of cancer first-hand, they were compelled to do something. That something turned into digging into their pocketbooks and clearing days on their calendars to buy supplies and sew mastectomy pillows and seatbelt port protectors which they give away free of charge.

1 John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has not pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

A woman who received free mastectomy pillows.

Jan, Becky, Judy and Connie don’t just provide for the needs that they see, they go looking for people in need. (They’re really pretty amazing.) They bless women who are undergoing cancer treatment, but in turn, they said they are also blessed.

Becky said, “I think one of the most rewarding things is delivering the pillows to the cancer centers and hearing the medical staff talk about how appreciative all of the recipients are.”

Because of the Bosom Buddies’ giving attitudes and their servant hearts, women all over our country who are experiencing the cost of cancer, are also receiving a gift of comfort.

If you or someone you know could benefit from free mastectomy pillows or a seatbelt port protector, follow the link below to my online request form.

FREE MASTECTOMY PILLOWS and SEATBELT COVER PORT PROTECTORS

 

What is a Mastectomy Pillow?

It is a small pillow that fits nicely in the armpit to help ease the pain after a mastectomy and/or lymph node surgery. After having your breasts removed and having had a surgeon dig around in your armpit for lymph nodes, sitting like a “normal” person with your hands at your sides is quite painful. The pillow provides a buffer.

What is a Seatbelt Cover Port Protector?

Women undergoing chemo for breast cancer generally have a port placed in their chest area. This remains in place for the duration of treatment. They receive meds through this port. A seatbelt cover port protector provides a bit of a buffer between the chest port and the seatbelt in their car.

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Breast Reconstruction Thoughts – Tamara Becker – Breast Cancer at Age 30

Breast Reconstruction Thoughts – Tamara Becker – Breast Cancer at Age 30
Welcome to Breast Reconstruction Thoughts where I feature women who have undergone a single or bilateral mastectomy. Most have also had breast reconstruction, but some have not. Some entered this world through cancer, others due to testing positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation which highly increases their chances of a future cancer diagnosis. I hope their words bring insight and encouragement.


Photo Courtesy of Tamara Becker

Tamara Becker

Tamara is my mom’s cousin. I grew up playing Cabbage Patch Dolls with her younger sister, Heather, out at their farmhouse. She is the first person I ever knew to be diagnosed with breast cancer. She is also one of the first people I called for wisdom after my diagnosis.

Name: Tamara Becker

Family: Collin – Age 22, Mallory – Age 20, Gavin – Age 17

Occupation: Legal Secretary/Legal Assistant

Hobbies/Interests: Boating and water-skiing, reading, sports – playing and watching, exercise/fitness

Diagnosis:  Stage II Breast Cancer with lymph node involvement – Bilateral Masectomy

Age at Time of Diagnosis: 30

Type of Reconstruction: Latissimus dorsi-fla

What was your initial response to your diagnosis?

How can I have breast cancer? – the only risk factor I had was being a woman and I need to live as I have a toddler and 3 month old baby to raise.

How much time passed from your mastectomy/bilateral mastectomy through completion of reconstruction?

I had a bilateral mastectomy in October of 1997. I started the Reconstruction process in August of 1998 and finished it in February of 1999.  A total of 1 year and 4 months.

What was something you found surprising or unexpected about the reconstruction process?

My reconstruction surgery was worse than the mastectomy surgery as far as pain and recovery.

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Breast Reconstruction Thoughts – Rachel Akslen – BRCA2 Positive

Breast Reconstruction Thoughts – Rachel Akslen – BRCA2 Positive
Welcome to Breast Reconstruction Thoughts at Life Reconstructed. Each Tuesday this fall, I am featuring a woman who has undergone a single or bilateral mastectomy. Most have also had breast reconstruction, but some have not. Some entered this world through cancer, others due to testing positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation which highly increases their chances of a future cancer diagnosis. I hope their words bring insight and encouragement.

Rachel was one of my closest college friends, and we’ve stayed friends for 20+ years. When I met her, her mom was dying of breast cancer. She later found that she had a very high likelihood of getting cancer as well. I remember when she went through her bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. It seemed so foreign and scary to me. Little did I know then, that about 4 years later, she would be my mentor as I went through the same process. But God knew, and I’m so thankful for the gift she is in my life.

Name – Rachel Akslen

Family – Husband Eric & 4 kids – Clara – 14, Jairus – 11, Ellie & Kaylee – 9

Occupation – Busy mom & part-time accountant

Hobbies/Interests – watching movies, reading, baking, watching kids play soccer

DiagnosisBRCA2 positive, prophylactic bilateral mastectomy & oophorectomy

Age at Time of Diagnosis – 35

Type of Reconstruction – expanders & silicone implants

Profile Questions

  • What was your initial response to your cancer diagnosis or to finding out you had the brca1 or brca2 gene?

I actually felt a lot of relief to finally just know & to have the ability to do something about it instead of just feeling like ticking time bomb.  There were also a lot of tears mostly when thinking about my kids & knowing that there is a 50% chance I have passed this on to each of them.

How much time passed from your mastectomy/bilateral mastectomy through completion of reconstruction?

About 5 months

What was something you found surprising or unexpected about the reconstruction process?

I didn’t realize how much you use your chest muscles & that pretty much every movement would hurt.  I also didn’t expect to have so much trouble sleeping & for so long.

What was the hardest part of the process?

I think the hardest part for me was the sleep deprivation.  I have learned that I am a much different person when I’m so over tired.  I’m not very patient with the kids & am just crabby.  It also made it easier to feel sorry for myself & question my decision.

Do you have a piece of advice for women who are just beginning this journey?

Find someone else who has been down a similar road to talk to & ask very frank questions to.

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Without the Hard Things

Given a choice between the hard things and the easy things, I’d pick easy. But sometimes God doesn’t let me choose.

One year ago today Corey and I faced a really hard thing. A 5-hour surgery to remove my cancer and my breasts.

I remember it with an ache in my heart. But right beside that ache there is joy. JOY. Because God is good and the giver of the good things. Even in the wake of bilateral mastectomies and reconstruction.

  • The good thing of experiencing  peace that passes all understanding deep down into my bones as I was poked, prodded, injected with blue radioactive dye and wheeled around the hospital before surgery. I have felt the peace of God many times in my life, but never have I experienced it like that.img_20160225_181228780
  • The good thing of Corey sitting beside my bed that first night in the hospital, holding my hand all night long, as I slipped in and out of sleep. (Seriously, the man pulled the recliner right up beside my bed and sat close enough to hold my hand for the entire night, only releasing his grasp to scratch the incessant itch that I could not reach at the end of my nose.)

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  • The good thing of my boys visiting me in the hospital because they needed to see for themselves that I was going to be okay. (My boys, and my mom who brought them to see me, are the best. Also, Carter and Owen have each grown like a foot and turned into man creatures since this photo was taken.)
  • The good thing of the hazy, nearly silent, but super-naturally peaceful hour with my bff, Marti, who came to sit with me while Corey met a friend for lunch, so I wouldn’t have to spend one minute of my hospital stay alone.
  • The good thing of the 20-something nurse who, at the end of her shift, said to Corey and me “You guys are so cute. I just had to say it.” (And we are cute, darn it. She was speaking truth.)
  • The good thing of the release nurse saying “You have a very nice husband; how he takes care of you. Not all husbands are like that.” (Truth again. He’s the real deal.)

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And look at us now. Because of what we endured together, this year’s family photos will probably always be my favorite. (Plus I think we would make a sweet Under Armour ad.)

I believe what it says in the book of James, that every good and perfect gift comes from above. From my father in heaven. I also believe that sometimes those good and perfect gifts can only be delivered through the hard things.

So I will endure the hard things. And I will find joy in the good things that saturate the hard things in light.

 

 

 

 

 

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