Saturday, February 14, 2009

Heart Pillow Project

Yesterday I continued with a project we've been working on at the AWC, the Heart Pillow Project, an idea that originated with the Danish AWC, making heart-shaped pillows for breast cancer patients. Late last year I donated some of the materials, and helped to make pillows with several other women at the Club.

Here's something about it from the FAWCO (Federal American Women's Club Overseas) website:

Registered Nurse Nancy Friis Jensen, AWC Denmark, attended a worldwide Congress of Operating Room Nurses in Washington D.C & was shown the pillows by Janet Kramer from her home state of Tennessee. Having lived in Denmark since 1976, she implemented the heart pillow project through the American Women’s Club in Denmark and Pink Tribute, a fundraising group for breast cancer projects. As Nancy“I thought instantly back to a dear colleague of mine that had died 2 years ago of breast cancer at 38 years old. One of the things that were really painfulfor her was the pain and swelling under her arm. I so wished that I had known about the pillow and could have helped eased some of her pain.” She makes heart pillows the objects of her own crusade to bring cheer to newly-operated breast cancer patients.

If you remember from previous entries, the AWC raises significant funds for breast cancer research in the Netherlands, primarily through our annual Pink Ribbon Gala. And after hearing about the heart pillow project and spoken with one woman in particular for whom the pillow was a comfort in her recovery from her own surgery, I wanted very much to participate.

The pillow is designed to be placed under the arm to ease pain from the surgical incision and tension along with helping reduce lymph swelling under the arm. It can be used in this way and under the seat belt when driving and also while lying on your side. The "v" in the heart fits very easily under the arm or the area where one is seeking relief. For many, the the pillow provides emotional comfort as well.

Yesterday, we delivered 20 of the pillows we made to the Mammapolikliniek at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). Pictured in the photo above are Diana Boyd, Gemma Ranke, Celeste Brown (FAWCO President) and Anu Dan. We plan to do the same for other local hospitals and I suspect this will become an ongoing project as the treatment centers and patients request more pillows.