After Maryanne Arthur underwent a bilateral mastectomy in March 2011, she awoke to find herself "flanked" by four surgical drains, two on each side of her upper body.
Arthur, like many mastectomy patients, quickly learned that the drains are heavy and uncomfortable. So her partner ripped a pair of pajamas to wrap around each drain during the rest of her recovery.
A few days after her surgery, Arthur met another patient in the hospital who was carrying her drains around in a brown bag. Despite recovering from her own surgery, Arthur quickly decided brown bagging it wasn’t sufficient—and thus an idea was born.
Arthur invented Pretty Pockets—a discreet and spirited way to secure post-surgical drains. Her own family got involved in making them, and now the pockets are donated to St. Joseph Medical Center and cancer patients everywhere.
“Pretty Pockets has received rave reviews from clinic staff, nurses, doctors and most importantly—breast cancer patients who’ve described the pockets as ‘practical and meaningful gifts,’” Arthur said.
In an effort to continue providing breast cancer patients with pockets, Arthur, a Perry Hall resident, has helped orchestrate a sew-in at Jo-Ann Fabrics in Bel Air.
On Oct. 18-19, volunteers can join Arthur’s family members and sew Pretty Pockets for patients at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
“They are quick and easy to make, and they serve a purpose,” said Regina Barry sewing department manger at Jo-Ann's. “Just the thought of [the pocket] being nice and soft next to your body after you come out of surgery — I think we could all relate.”
Since Arthur invented Pretty Pockets in 2011, she has partnered with sewing groups all across the state to stitch and deliver nearly 1,000 pockets to Dr. Michael Schultz at St. Joseph’s. When his cupboards overflow with pockets, she ships batches to Dr. Dawn Lemanne at Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York.
Arthur, who said she isn’t much of a sewer herself, attaches hand-written messages to the pockets she delivers, which she said gives them a personal touch. The messages also offer a reminder that the women in need are not alone.
“My doctor said I should market the pockets and sell them, but I would much rather give it away,” Arthur said. “It’s really a gift. I put hand-drawn tags on each pocket that goes out the door.”
The sew-ins will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 18 and 19 at Jo-Ann's in Bel Air. Anyone interested in joining in should call the store ahead of time at 410-420-1755, to make sure they have supplies for you. Participants do not need to bring anything with them, supplies will be provided.