I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2015. After the initial shock the first thing I did was make a breast cancer heart pillow for myself. In Germany there are many groups making those pillows for the hospitals, and they are given out to the patients before surgery. The pillow soothes physical and emotional pain and can be used in many different ways:
- Placed under the arm after surgery it keeps the arm away from the lymph node incision and relaxes the shoulder. This is also helpful if a patient is suffering from skin irritation and discomfort while undergoing radiation.
- In the car it can be used to keep the seatbelt away from the surgical site.
- It provides padding and support at night, as a side sleeper I found this especially helpful.
- It can be used as an arm rest to provide comfort during chemotherapy.
- Patients suffering from lymphedema can use the pillow to prop up their arm to find relief from swelling and tenderness.
I finished my chemotherapy and radiation treatments in December 2015, and after giving myself some time to recover I felt ready to introduce the breast cancer heart pillows in Chilliwack in September 2016. The following groups are supporting the project and making pillows:
- Chilliwack Quilters Guild
- Chilliwack Piecemakers Quilting Guild
- Chilliwack Rhythm Reelers Square and Round Dance Club
And a special thank you goes to Westland Insurance for their donation that bought us a huge amount of fibrefill.
I have collected over 60 pillows in the first month and have already delivered the first load to the surgeon who treated me last year. He treats the majority of breast cancer cases in Chilliwack and estimates he will need approximately 150 pillows per year. His receptionist will give out the pillows to their patients. As soon as we are confident that we have enough pillows available for their patients, we will move to the next stage. I am hoping to eventually be able to supply every woman in Chilliwack who is diagnosed with breast cancer with a pillow.
How can you help?
There are many ways to support the Chilliwack Heart Pillow Project.
- If you know how to sew, download the pattern and make a pillow. Or maybe even two.
- Donate supplies. We can always use cotton fabrics and fibrefill. The fabrics don’t need to be pink, any cheerful colour/pattern is welcome.
- Spread the word. Even if you can’t sew or donate supplies, you can help by telling others about this project.
What to consider
The pillows are quick and easy to make but there are a few things to pay attention to:
- Use only cotton fabrics. Flannels/brushed cotton is fine but no poly blends please.
- Use washable fibrefill. The pillows get a lot of use and need to be able to handle frequent washing. The most economic way to stuff the pillows that I have found so far is buying an inexpensive pillow and using the filling for the heart pillows.
- Please make sure that the pillows are stuffed enough. These are not soft and cozy pillows. They need to be firm to provide the needed support. The pattern calls for 170g of fibrefill, this equals 6oz, if you prefer imperial measurements. This is a lot of fibrefill. The best way is to actually weigh the amount of fibrefill that needs to go into the pillow. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, then just stuff the pillow to the best of your knowledge and leave the final part of the seam open. I weigh them all before passing them on, and it makes it easier for me to add a little extra filling if needed.
I am grateful for any help I can get for this project. If you have pillows or supplies to donate, please contact me, and I will be happy to pick them up.
Statistics (Oct 23, 2019)
Pillows collected: 287