As a radiation oncologist, Elizabeth Chabner Thompson focused much of her career treating breast cancer, a disease her mother battled. But it wasn’t until Thompson was a patient herself and chose to have preventative mastectomies to reduce the risk of the developing the disease, that she realized how hard it is to be on the other side.
“Getting prepared for treatment, coping with side effects … feeling undignified and exposed, organizing medications and therapies can all make treatment seem overwhelming,” the Scarsdale resident says.
Outdated garments and accessories didn’t help.
Last year Thompson launched Best Friends for Life, a Scarsdale company that creates and sells products to help make patients’ recovery easier. Specially designed pillows, designer-style BFFL bags filled with comforts like cozy socks, skin cream, and post-surgery needs are among the products currently available. Special bras that patients can wear during treatment and after surgery are among the items that will become available this year.
Thompson has also expanded the business to serve patients battling traumatic brain injury. Inspired by her best friend Sara Kerr Reges, a nurse whose son was in a four-month-long coma after being hit by a car, the BFFL bags geared toward individuals with brain injuries and their caregivers are filled with items from rehab tools to word games.
Recently four local 12 and 13-year-old boys boys – Larchmont twins Will and Jack Powers, Rye’s Gus Rodriguez of Rye and Solomon Thompson of Scarsdale – filled 100 bags assembly line-style, personalizing each with a hand-written note to its recipient. The bags are being donated to help those with brain injuries through Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
The breast bags normally retail for about $100 and the brain bags cost $120, with 15% of the profits going to specific charities.
Photos: Elizabeth Chabner Thompson