An Altrincham woman who hit the headlines when she underwent a preventive double mastectomy has launched a business to help other women cope with the aftermath of the life-saving operation.
Charlotte Wood, 27, appeared on national television last year when she opted to have the major operation after discovering she had an 85% chance of contracting breast cancer and a 65% chance of developing ovarian cancer, the same disease to have claimed the life of her mum when Charlotte was just 17.
The operation requires patients to carry unsightly surgical drains to remove blood and fluids from the wound which could cause swelling or infection.
And now Charlotte has launched a business called Drain Dollies, which creates bags to conceal the drains in a discreet and simple manner.
The former Altrincham Grammar School for Girls pupil said: “The main reason for using a drain dolly is to allow use of the hands. Having to carry around a drain can make simple tasks such as going to the toilet or washing your hands difficult. A drain dolly allows full use of the arms.”
She added: “When I had my operation, my best friend’s mum made me some drain dollies, which is where the idea came from. There are a few places in America which sold similar products, but nothing that could properly solve the problem.”
Charlotte began by hand-making each drain dolly, but as demand rose and she became more determined to offer a larger variety of patterns and colours, she now outsources the product’s manufacture to a London-based business.
She also donates 10% of all proceeds to Prevent Breast Cancer, a charity based in The Nightingale Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital where Charlotte had her operation.
“The feedback I am getting is fantastic and it is a lovely way of supporting ladies through their journey,” Charlotte added.
Charlotte continues to raise awareness of the BRCA gene – the gene which can lead to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer – by writing for the Huffington Post and fronting the latest campaign from Prevent Breast Cancer.
She also offers advice through her blog, They Are Sisters Not Twins.
For more information, like the Drain Dollies Facebook page.