Interview with Susan Rivett - Booby Cushions

The diagnosis of breast cancer and the surgery that followed has inspired the creation of a not for profit home based business offering much needed pain relief to cancer sufferers.

Diagnosed with breast cancer resulting in a mastectomy in December 2017, James Dunlop employee, Susan Rivett, was gifted a small cushion to ease the discomfort under her arm and to help her sleep.

Not only is a mastectomy a significant surgical operation it also leaves the patient with physical changes that that they need to overcome as well as pain they need to deal with on a daily basis while recovering. With the removal of the breast tissue and surrounding lymph nodes and raw skin, the ability to sleep or move your arms in anyway can be painful.

The small cushion that Susan was gifted became her best friend, it made such a difference “it was amazing” says Susan. Long nights with no sleep and aching pain the cushion was simply popped under her arm, giving Susan much needed relief. From watching television, to going out – it was easy.

When her elderly aunty was diagnosed only 6 months later, Susan knew what to send her. The feedback her Aunty gave was amazing – her best sleep since surgery, upon receiving the cushion. This was Susan’s lightbulb moment, her idea of producing cushions for breast cancer surgery patients was born - Booby Cushions. 

Her goal was to make these available to women in Auckland. Who has got time on their hands to help, she thought?  This lead to a discussion with the team at Auckland’s Department of Corrections to see if the female inmates could help. They responded with a resounding yes. With a sewing room available and keen volunteers at hand, Susan’s workroom got into action. Susan works at James Dunlop Textiles, who already gift fabric to a lot of charities. James Dunlop were very supportive providing fabric from deleted ranges and old samples that were no longer required.

Filled with foam and made of quality and stylish fabrics, Booby Cushions is growing daily. A recent television feature has led to enquires from other types of patients.  Calls from people going through transgender transitioning (after masculinisation surgery) as well as those that have had heart surgery. Susan is happy to take on feedback and create new designs to help patients however she can. Initially the aim was to supply the cushions to women in Auckland however Susan now covers all of New Zealand, and cushions already being sent to Australia.

Another positive aspect to her business is the confidence building of the inmates. The retraining, and upskilling in areas like teamwork, communication and project management while giving back to the community is a real benefit.

With the help of a sponsor Susan would like to offer the Booby Cushions free of charge however at the moment she asks for a donation to help with running costs and postage bags. All donations go back to Booby Cushions to move the non-profit business forward.

For more information on Booby Cushions visit www.boobycushions.nz


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