No one likes the idea of having surgery for any reason. For many women with breast cancer, surgery is a guarantee. Coping with the idea of getting one surgery, let alone multiple, is a difficult process. It’s not only the surgery. You also have to consider lifestyle changes during recovery after breast surgery, and plan how much time you need off from work. You need to figure out ways to get things done around the house without causing pain, and just come to terms with the loss of at least one of your breasts.
On top of everything else, once the surgery is done, you also have to somehow manage your surgical drains.
Surgical drains are used for women following the completion of their mastectomy. They can also be used following a breast reconstruction procedure. These drains connect to the surgical site and are used to drain off any fluid around the area to prevent a build-up. Most women have their drains for around two weeks, if not longer. And unfortunately, most hospitals do not give you anything to carry your drains around.
This is not an ideal situation. Not only do you have to carry visible surgical drains while enjoying various activities, you are also unable to use your own hands. You have to worry about the drains snagging on something. Because of this, many women will simply choose to stay at home when they have their drains.
Fortunately, Charlotte “Charley” Wood has come up with a solution for this problem that plagues women during recovery after breast surgery: Drain Dollies.
Charlotte Wood’s Story
The idea for Drain Dollies came to Charley Wood after her own experience with a double mastectomy.
When she was 17, Charley lost her mother to ovarian cancer. Her grandmother and grandmother’s sister had both had ovarian cancer as well. The experience made it clear that she needed to be tested for the BRCA1 gene, a mutated gene that increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Having the gene means a woman has roughly an 85 percent chance of getting breast cancer. It turns out that Charley had it. To lower her risk of breast cancer, she underwent a preventative double mastectomy in July 2015.
Knowing that she would have to deal with surgical drains after the surgery, she spent a great deal of time searching for surgical drain bags. Unfortunately, despite all her efforts, she was unable to find anything that fit her needs. Like many women, she did not want the inconvenience of having to carry the drains around by hand. Nor did she want to feel self-conscious about having visible surgical drains when outside of the house.
Charley knew many women who would carry their drains in pillow cases or plastic bags. While this solved the visibility problem, it did not solve the problem of having her hands full every time she went out. So, she created Drain Dollies to fill a very big need during recovery after breast surgery.
A Helpful Solution
She says “I have always loved helping people both professionally and on a personal level. When I had my double mastectomy I really struggled with drains. I made myself two bags which made moving around so much easier. Having seen ladies using plastic bags and pillow cases, I thought, ‘why not make my bags available to all women?’ I then came up with the name ‘Drain Dollies.’ Drain Dollies not only help ladies recover from surgery and give them a choice, they also raise vital funds for breast cancer research.”
What Are Drain Dollies?
Drain Dollies are easy-to-wear bags that provide women with a safe place to carry their surgical drains during recovery after breast surgery. Specially designed by Charley Wood to securely hold surgical drains, they allow women to carry their drains with them while still using their hands. Plus, you can carry your cell phone or any necessary medication in them, similar to a regular handbag.
The bags come in a variety of styles and are easily covered up by a jacket or cardigan. For most women, one Drain Dolly is sufficient for holding surgical drains after a single mastectomy. However, two Drain Dollies are best for women who have had a double mastectomy. The bags are all lightweight, so it’s easy to have one on each shoulder.
Although the bags are made for surgical drains, they are very similar to tote bags. You can continue using them for other things after the drains are removed. They work great as shopping bags and are good for children who want to have a bag of their own to carry around.
How Much Are They?
Most Drain Dollies cost around $9. You can choose from just plain colors like black or grey, or you can get patterns like hearts, butterflies, leopard print, and floral. Given their affordability, they make for great gifts for women who have just undergone a mastectomy or other surgery related to breast cancer. Not to mention, it is easy to get multiple designs if you like to change your look every once in awhile.
The best part is, 10 percent of all Drain Dollies sales go to Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, a charity based in the United Kingdom that is committed to leading ground-breaking research in the prevention and prediction of breast cancer. In addition to donating to Genesis, Charley Wood regularly tries to raise awareness of genetic mutations and remove the stigma that is still attached to receiving a double mastectomy.
Women Love Drain Dollies to Help with Recovery after Breast Surgery
If you spend a bit of time, you can read through numerous stories and testimonials from women who love their Drain Dollies. The official website maintains a page dedicated to photographs and testimonials. Plus, the company’s Facebook and Instagram are filled with even more stories.
Women have praised Drain Dollies for being a fantastic ideas and for making a huge difference in their recovery after breast surgery. They have detailed how the bags have given them more confidence or helped reduce snagging. Still other women have used Drain Dollies to complete important trips following their surgeries, calm their worries about post-mastectomy life, and as gifts to help friends with their recoveries.
Although Drain Dollies was created with the intention of helping women following mastectomy or breast reconstruction surgery deal with their surgical drains, it has expanded a bit beyond that. Some bags have been sent to women having other surgeries that require surgical drains, while others have been used by men following their own mastectomies.
A Great Company With a Great Message
Charley Wood and Drain Dollies play a vital role in improving the post-surgery lives of women around the world. The company seeks to empower women after their mastectomies instead of keeping them hidden away due to fear or anxiety about their drains. We talk a lot about empowerment and finding your new normal on this blog, and Drain Dollies is a company that helps support that goal for women.
If you would like to learn more about Drain Dollies and Charlotte Wood, please visit the Drain Dollies website.
You can read all about the founder’s story, the product, and efforts for raising awareness. The site’s FAQ page includes answers to several questions that might be going through your mind before your surgery and Charley encourages women to email any other questions they may have.
The Drain Dollies founder also has a blog titled They Are Not Twins They Are Sisters. She started the blog during her own journey with a double mastectomy as a type of personal journal. It now includes videos, stories, and information that many women turn to during their own journeys.