As Cherie Mathews entered her forties, her successful career was in full swing. As a computer engineer, she thrived professionally because of her natural problem-solving skills and innovative mindset. Then, one day, her life took an unexpected turn: she learned that she had breast cancer. This life-changing diagnosis led her to apply the same skills to help other survivors. The Healincomfort recovery shirt was born.
When doctors diagnosed Cherie with breast cancer in 2000, she had prepared for her post-surgical recovery by envisioning what she would need once she awoke. She packed one of her husband’s oversized dress shirts to accommodate the medical drains that would hang from her wounds. Instead of giving her a better solution, her nurse mocked her for thinking the shirt would help and handed her safety pins to manage the medical drains. That same nurse told her that women usually just suffer in silence. At that moment, Cherie’s problem-solving skills kicked into high gear.
“If you break a leg, you get a boot. When you sprain your arm, you get a sling,” Cherie said. “Like other survivors, all I got was a couple of safety pins.” She knew there had to be a better way and vowed to make safety pins a thing of the past. Upon returning home, Cherie also realized that her clothes posed a problem because they couldn’t help her recover in comfort. Everything she wore made her body hurt and complicated the management of her drains. As soon as she recovered, she set out to create a prototype of “adaptive clothing” for cancer survivors.
To date, the Healincomfort shirt has helped more than 42,000 people recovering from cancer surgery. With its Velcro-like fasteners, the recovery shirt enables people to dress themselves after a mastectomy, not a small feat considering that brushing your teeth can prove nearly impossible. The soft-as-a-feather, athletic-style top is also popular because it preserves a survivor’s dignity. “While I designed the Healincomfort recovery shirt with four internal pockets to safely and securely hold medical drains,” said Cherie. “I also considered that people want to keep them out of sight. That’s why it looks as though you could be going to spin class or out for a run.”
As a social cancerpreneur, Cherie is always lending a helping hand to others with a similar mission. KILI Carrier founder, Cinde Dolphin, was one of those like-minded people. “When I met Cinde, I saw a great partnership in a sister survivor with a heart to help others, just like me,” she said. “The KILI Carrier is a great compliment to the Healincomfort. That’s why we teamed up. And, together, we have helped thousands of patients.”
You can purchase the KILI Medical Drain Carrier on Amazon.