Small Business Spotlight: Making Breast Cancer Treatment a Little More Pleasant with the BFFLBag
MN: When you created the Breast BFFL bag did people “get it” right away? Were there any obstacles?
ET: The first interview I had in 2011, the woman interviewing me clearly had not prepared and she started out saying, “So you made a bag. Why does a breast cancer patient need a bag?” I think a lot of people did not appreciate all that goes into recovering from a mastectomy and how shattering it can be for women to lose their dignity and confidence after surgery. The BFFLBag packs all the hard to find “little things” so that a patient does not have to do without or send a loved one on a wild goose chase for a certain type of gauze. The BFFLBag brings all of the little things and more to the patient’s bedside. Until you try to understand, it just looks like a duffle bag filled with stuff.
MN: Aside from buying a BFFL bag, what is the best way for family members and friends to support their loved ones before, during and after cancer treatment?
ET: Act normal, chat about fun things, don’t be negative but look towards recovery and getting their loved one back to the routine before cancer.
MN: How does ones’ post-op experience affect their recovery? Do pleasant experiences create better outcomes?
ET: I hope that we could always telegraph positive thoughts and actions, but who’s not scared when they get cancer or when they’re faced with a tragic injury? The most important thing for a patient to feel is confidence from those caring for them.
MN: What has been the most inspiring thing you’ve heard from someone who has purchased a Breast BFFL bag?
ET: Each time an order comes through, we write a handwritten card. It’s all about making the patient feel better. One of the women who received a BFFLBag then rallied her church group to raise money for another woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Her church group has delivered dozens of bags.
It has so much meaning when it comes from a friend, parishioner, congregant or college roommate. I love writing the cards and of course, organizing the “giveback” We will be making our first donations in the form of delivering BFFLBags to uninsured women struggling with their diagnosis and recovery.
MN: After the success of the BFFLBags, you extended the line to include bags and accessories for other types of hospital stays (such as pregnancy/delivery, prostate, transplants, etc). What was the catalyst behind the expansion?
ET: I love it when someone says to me, “Have you thought about making a bag for a new mother or a dialysis bag?” I have lists of conditions and spend a great deal of time creating the content list – speaking to patients and then bringing the final list to a review board of doctors and nurses.
MN: What’s next for the BFFL Co?
ET: We have a line of “get well” bags that are sold on 1800flowers.com and we will expand our line to cover all health conditions.
Right now we have BFFLBags for patients undergoing treatment for breast and prostate cancer, GYN surgeries such as hysterectomy or women’s cancers, transplant, neuro/brain injury, a mommy/delivery BFFLBag to prepare new mothers for recovery after having a baby, and we love to make custom BFFLBags — just email us. We’ve made BFFLBags for patients with colon cancer, lung cancer, brain tumors, skin cancers, thyroid cancer, head and neck cancers. [And, we also] have kits for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.
MN: Any final thoughts for Madame Noire readers?
KT: Yes. [Go and get] your mammogram and seek out and support nurse navigators. One of the big issues I have become aware of recently is discrepancies in health care based on race. We need to insure that all patients are given access to all options for therapy and reconstruction. Women diagnosed with breast cancer have a right to hear all options for reconstruction and should see a plastic surgeon to learn about implant reconstruction or tissue transfer. Physicians should explain options in the same way to patients with private health insurance or those on Medicare or Medicaid. The same goes for men diagnosed with prostate cancer. There should not be discrepancies in care based on race or insurance. We are all entitled to the same discussions with our physicians when it comes to cancer treatment.
To learn more about the BFFL Co or to purchase a BFFLBag for yourself or a loved one, visit www.bfflco.com.
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