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Sharp Health News

Helping women heal comfortably after breast cancer surgery

Oct. 24, 2018

Helping women heal comfortably after breast cancer surgery

Nurses and staff from Dr. Alfonso Camberos’ office gifted Trinity Aprons with fabric to make 100 drain aprons for mastectomy patients at Sharp Memorial Hospital’s Breast Health Center.

Five years ago, three friends came together to create Trinity Aprons — a project to positively affect the lives of women who undergo mastectomies at Sharp Memorial Hospital’s Breast Health Center.

One of the co-founders of Trinity Aprons was their inspiration. In 2013, she had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Following surgery, she struggled to handle the surgical drains and tubes that must be worn for weeks to collect fluid as the body heals.

“She considered using a carpenter’s apron, but the hard, scratchy canvas wouldn’t have felt good against her skin,” says Pat Pauley, Trinity Aprons co-founder.

Along with friend Karen Denis, the three women decided to create a drain apron similar to a carpenter’s nail apron, but made of soft flannel. Pat sewed the first prototype.

In 2016, the friend who inspired Trinity Aprons moved out of state, but Pat and Karen still get together every four to six weeks to make approximately 35 to 40 aprons at a time. Because their friend was a patient at Sharp Memorial Hospital’s Breast Health Center, Pat and Karen donate the aprons to mastectomy patients at the facility.

The aprons are given anonymously and hand-delivered to patients the day after their mastectomy by Breast Health Center navigators.

“The drain aprons go above and beyond; they are what The Sharp Experience is all about,” says Sue Robinson, a breast cancer nurse navigator at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

“Often patients feel overwhelmed and anxious after their mastectomy, but patients tell me the aprons help brighten their day and make their journey a little easier.”

This month, Trinity Aprons received a special donation from the office of plastic surgeon Dr. Alfonso Camberos, which raised money to purchase enough fabric for 100 aprons.

“Many of our patients having breast reconstructive surgery after their mastectomy wear the beautiful drain aprons,” says Nancy Nguyen, a nurse in the office. “They find the aprons extremely useful because they can better manage the drains during recovery.”

Karen and Pat plan to keep making aprons for many years to come. They both feel it is an honor to help patients during such a difficult time in their lives.

“Our aprons are made with love and packaged with prayers of healing and comfort for each person who receives them,” says Karen.

For more information about the Breast Health Center at Sharp Memorial Hospital, visit sharp.com/breasthealth.

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