Amy Downing looks at life differently since her cancer experience.
“Since cancer, I thought about what I could do that would be useful and meaningful,” she says. This desire resulted in the recent launch of Healing to Healthy, a nonprofit to provide camisoles and comfort to breast cancer patients. She plans to donate them to Rush Copley’s Cancer Care Center for mastectomy patients.
Amy knows the camisoles will offer comfort to women on their journey of healing. She has personal knowledge of just how helpful the camisoles can be.
In 2017, Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated at Rush Copley. “I’m very fortunate,” Amy says. “I had a great care experience.”
Following her surgery, Amy had two uncomfortable drains at the surgical site which she worried about accidentally pulling out. A friend gave her a specially-made robe with pockets that held the drains in place, which helped. She then learned about special camisoles that would hold the drains and called her insurance company about getting one – only to find a referral was needed. She eventually got a camisole and said, “It made a huge difference in comfort. I could wear it 24/7. I wish I had known about it sooner.”
After meeting and sharing experiences with other cancer patients, Amy had the idea of starting a nonprofit to provide patients with a post-op camisole that is effective, comfortable and easy to put on. She worked with seamstress Jessica Tampa to create a pattern and choose a fabric.
The cami they created is a stretchy cotton top with inside pockets to hold the post-op drains. A simple garment, it provides comfort and peace of mind to patients during the day and especially at night as they try to find comfortable positions for sleeping.
"It’s important that someone give it to you,” Amy said of donating the camisoles. A patient will have a camisole when she needs it – and it’s something she may not anticipate needing.
Amy is looking for volunteers to sew the camisoles and hopes to hold sewing meet-ups where volunteers can meet in small groups to work on them. “This is a beginner level sewing project,” she says. “It takes about 2.5 hours of time and $15 to make.”
She is also working on raising funds to support this venture. Donations can be made through her website, healingtohealthy.org and will be used to purchase fabric and supplies for making the camisoles.
Although this nonprofit is just launching, Amy has plans to grow this venture. She says, “We have a vision to not just fund, design and create camisoles, but also to design other helpful clothing items and accessories to assist others, no matter where they are in their life journey – all the way from ‘Healing to Healthy.’”