Thursday, July 5, 2012

Scrap Busting with Post Mastectomy Pillows

A dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. About three weeks ago she had a mastectomy which included removal of lymph nodes. I did not know this, but evidently most of the post operative pain comes from removal of the lymph nodes – there are many nerves in that area.

My friend was given a small pillow to wear under her seat belt. (She now has a million appointments - I had no idea that fighting breast cancer is such a full time job.)

This seat belt pillow was made from a brightly colored quilting cotton with giant ladybugs. This friend has a similar aesthetic to mine and, while she appreciated the utility of the pillow, the fabric was bumming her out, especially since it is something she uses in public.

When she mentioned the existence of this pillow to me, I started researching these on the internet. I learned that there is a whole category of pillow called Comfort Pillows and they come in different shapes for different purposes. This article on is helpful.

There seem to be several basic shapes: heart, crescent, rectangular, and something called a "dog bone". The crescent- and heart-shaped pillows often include ribbons so they can be tied onto the shoulder. I sent her several pictures so she could give me some guidance on what would be most useful.

My friend thought that the crescent shape would be good for sleeping but without the ribbons - she envisioned becoming entangled.

I made her two pillows. I also provided her with some black minky to cover said ladybugs on the seat belt pillow.

The first pillow used a pattern provided by Husqvarna Viking – the PDF of the pattern and instructions can be downloaded for free here.

For this pillow, I used scraps of a stretch woven cotton left over from my Hexagonal Tablecloth skirt. I stuffed this one fairly tightly.

Then, just today on Stitcher's Guild, someone posted another free pattern for a crescent shaped post-mastectomy pillow. What perfect timing!

The PDF instructions for this pattern, from emlibrary, can be downloaded for free here. The PDF of the pattern itself can be downloaded for free here.

I made this pillow using more scraps of the same sweater knit I used for several travel accessories for DD2. (I still have lots of scraps left. :) ) I stuffed this one more lightly.

These were both very quick to sew and stuff. I plan to deliver them tomorrow. I am eager to hear which shape and stuffing density she prefers. I will report back on this post.