Fighting Breast Cancer with Healincomfort Founder Cherie Mathews
Cherie was recently featured in the October cover story for Legend Magazine. An honor to be in such good company! Below is an excerpt from the pre-interview…
Q: So, how has life been treating you in 2021?
It’s been very difficult but I’m happy that my immediate family is safe. My business Healincomfort that helps breast cancer patients has had to adjust and pivot but still blessed to be able to help even during these challenging times. My husband Adam and I ride motorcycles all over the planet but this year we concentrated on Utah and CO because flying to other countries was, shall we say, difficult.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your career?
Helping others and being able to give back even as far away as Africa and India!
Q: What motivates you to work hard?
I wouldn’t say it’s pride, but it is pride, the good kind of pride because it’s important to me to be proud of my contribution while I’m still here. My big goal is to have my patented solution be available for all mastectomy patients to go home in and begin their recovery process in comfort and dignity. Just like how a sling is offered for a sprained elbow to recover in. I believe my Healincomfort Recovery Shirt should be offered to the mastectomy patients so they can manage the medical drains and look like a person and not a science experiment. No one has post surgery clothes waiting in their closet just in case they have surgery so this solution should be offered to go home after they’ve been discharged.
Q: You are a talent and a blessing to so many! Tell us what or who inspires you to be the best version of yourself?
As a God girl I’m always learning and applying the principles I’ve learned in the bible such as loving your neighbor as much as one’s self, it’s actually a huge goal to truly love one another! My earthly inspirations include Glenn Lundy, who is number one on Clubhouse Breakfast with Champions which is an audio app, Glenn encourages thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world just like my new friend Joseph Bonner!
Q: Tell us more about your business! Why did you start it?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago, a disease that has not been witnessed in my family DNA before. I was the athletic one – a long-distance runner – but I was the one diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s scary receiving this diagnosis and it’s scary for your loved ones as they feel a little helpless. I had to have a double mastectomy in my battle against breast cancer and when I woke after surgery the first thing I asked my amazing and supportive husband Adam was to hand me my red lipstick that I brought with me. I needed to feel a little normal because my body no longer looked normal nor remotely the same in fact I couldn’t even recognize it. However, as you can imagine, the lipstick only helped so much.
My frustration started when the nurse tried to get me dressed in what I had been instructed to bring – an old button down dress shirt from my husband’s closet or something like it- I had no idea how emotionally devastating that would feel after my breasts had just been removed.
The pain from the movement of trying to get my arms into that shirt was too much and I got sick. The nurse’s frustration set in and she snapped at me asking why I brought “that shirt”. My response to this was, “Why don’t you provide something? I do not understand why I would be in trouble for guessing incorrectly. What do you provide?”
The nurse, in response, suggested that they provide safety pins so I could pin the surgical drains that are sewn into my body to the outside of that shirt. This was unacceptable. I did not want to go home to my young children and walk through the door in a man’s dress shirt, my breast removed, surgical drains sewn into my body visible for all the world to see only being held in place by – safety pins!
What doesn’t seem fair that a sprained elbow receives a sling to recover in but I have to guess what appropriate recovery equipment is after just having a mastectomy? I’m sure if a man lost his man parts in the war against cancer they would not be sending him home in his wife’s skirt. It would just be wrong. So then, why is it okay for a woman to be sent home in a men’s dress shirt when she has just lost her breasts? No-one has post operative clothing hanging in their closet just in case they might have surgery so again I was frustrated that nothing was provided for me to cover my altered body and manage the medical drains.
When I got home I laid in my bed for a couple of days until I eventually rallied enough energy to shuffle into my closet to look for something new and clean to wear. And that’s when it hit me. I had absolutely nothing in my closet that was big, loose and opened up from the front. After mastectomy surgery you can barely brush your teeth because all movement was painful and limited, never mind self-dressing and the ability to put clothes on over your head. In fact you’re under doctor’s orders to not lift anything heavier than a soup can. And I didn’t have anything that would feel soft and comfortable on my hurting skin or that wouldn’t require a painful struggle to get on. The only clothes available in my closet were golf clothes, motorcycle clothes, or dress clothes. For the first time since being diagnosed with breast cancer I cried because I was so frustrated, it’s all so overwhelming. There just wasn’t anything in my closet adaptive enough, easy to put on, and that would help to manage the medical drains which are such a pain to deal with. But then remembered that I am an inventor and at that moment, Healincomfort was born. I named it Healincomfort because it was the very last thing that was happening.
No one fighting breast cancer should have to go through these added obstacles. Due to the frustrations I experienced there is now a better way to heal – in comfort and with dignity.
Healincomfort provides specialized recovery equipment designed specifically to help women and men recovering from surgery in their battle against breast cancer. Our recovery shirt provides the patient with the most comfortable recovery wear solution. Whether they are having a mastectomy, radiation, reconstructive or explant surgery, the healincomfort recovery shirt was designed to help. It’s made from a soft as feathers moisture managing material to keep the patient dry and comfortable. My patented and award winning design features; four large internal pockets to conceal and manage surgical drains discretely and out of sight which matters. It also has larger armholes for free breathing and better healing after sentinel node removal; velcro-like fasteners for independent dressing when movement is limited and painful; a boxy cut giving room for surgical drain tubes and finally, has an outerwear look making it perfect for post-surgery doctor visits (no more paper capes!).
My hope is the healincomfort recovery shirt will make others recover from breast cancer surgery so much easier, much more comfortable, and far less frustrating while helping them look and feel like a person, not a science experiment. My core value is all about comfort and dignity.
The Healincomfort Recovery Shirt offers advantages like;
* A special moisture management material that took over a year to develop. It’s so soft that it will feel like feathers on your sensitive and hurting skin.
* 4 large internal pockets to manage your surgical drains while keeping them concealed and out of sight.
* A design with purposefully larger armholes to allow adequate and important space which is less irritating especially after sentinel node removal.
* Easy to use velcro-like fasteners to allow for easy and independent dressing when movement is painful and limited
* A roomy, boxy cut designed like outerwear similar to a workout or bicycle shirt that allows ample room for surgical drains while providing you with a “normal” look and not a patient look which is perfect for accepting company, post-surgery doctor visits or resting even sleeping in and most importantly, feeling like a normal human being!
The recovery shirt is for the breast cancer patients out there, women about to have a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, explant surgery, or any upper body surgery that will require drain management tubes during recovery. My Healincomfort Recovery shirt is the original and the only patented and global award winning recovery shirt on the market so take that cancer! That is my story of my why and how I turned a bad thing into a good thing for others. The small goal of helping 100 Austin TX patients has turned into 150,000 souls with Healincomfort products and technology. The ELI Code that I include on my postcards is a scannable code to deliver some of the world’s most informative and powerful platforms on the planet all with a one second scan and in the privacy of the patient’s home. No more searching the internet and only coming up with fearful stories and photos. This technology is a free gift and hand curated without tracking nor asking the patient for their contact information. Nothing but knowledge and empowerment so the patient can better navigate through this difficult journey. This ELI code connects the patient to community, clinical trials, progress apps, telemedicine help if needed to name a few. I priced my Healincomfort recovery shirt to be the same price as flowers but it’s helpful for up to a full year, it won’t wilt like flowers and can be passed down to help another patient beginning the journey.
I started Healincomfort because I experienced something very broken out here after mastectomy surgery. I’m a 20 year survivor who turned a bad thing into a good thing for others. I bootstrapped Healincomfort as a social experiment and if I was able to survive as a business then I would tell others about my business and encourage others to give it a go! You don’t have to be 1 M dollars debt to start so Bootstrapping is an excellent way to just start vs never starting. I recommend reading Daymond John’s book Power of Broke to learn about a bootstrapping massive success story.
Q: What needs are you filling in 2022?
I’m still out here helping women and men recover in comfort and dignity as they battle this dragon called breast cancer. I have a special emphasis on a little known fact and that is men get breast cancer too!! I know that might come as a shock but everyone equates breast cancer with women but after I started getting orders for my Healincomfort Recovery shirt from men I looked into the reason and I too was shocked to learn that 1 out of 100 breast cancer diagnoses is in a man! I found a wonderful organization called Male Breast Cancer Coalition that was created after Peggy and Bob Miller’s 17 year old son Brett was diagnosed with male breast cancer. I decided to build the guys their own website called The Recovery Shirt so they didn’t have to go to a pink site to order a recovery shirt. Some of the guys were going into their garage and using an old bungee cord to help manage the medical drains so they are equally as happy to have post surgical adaptive clothing. Also I work hard at getting the word out because it’s hard to believe that men are treated like a woman for breast cancer diagnostics, for example they have to answer on the intake forms when their last menstrual cycle was and whether they are pregnant or not! So as you can see things are quite broken out there and I’m busy changing thing for the better
Q: Why do people need your service?
Patients need my service because battling cancer attacks the mind, body and soul. So self dressing is actually an important step in the recovery process when all movement is painful and difficult. Comfort and dignity for the patients are Healincomfort’s core values. I created the Healincomfort Recovery shirt to be as soft as feathers on hurting skin, velcro-like fasteners for ease of independent dressing, four large internal pockets to safely and discreetly hold the medical drains out of sight and finally because I never wanted to look sick so I designed this specialty wear to look like outerwear, something you’d wear to work out or spin class.
Q: Can you give us the best industry advice in the form of 5 ways to ….
Grow your business
- Understand money, how to earn it, how to keep it, how to give it and how to invest in cash flowing assets.
- Marketing is vital, images, video and telling your story that creates images in the mind of the listener
- Make sure your message is “sticky” and memorable
- Know your WHY or you will become very tired trying to aim at a moving target.
- Stay in your lane- free from distractions.
Q: What was it like for you growing up as a child?
My Mom saved people, animals and the planet and my Dad was an entrepreneur and an architect/builder so my little sister and I received excellent training to be the best human possible.
Q: What is your favorite childhood memory?
My Dad came home one day with my name on the side of a truck and when I asked him why he had my name painted on the side of a large truck he told me I better get used to seeing my name all over when I get older! I was seven! Talk about building up a child’s vision board and confidence.
Q: When did you realize that you wanted to be in your career? What obstacles did you face?
After IBM R&D and computer engineering with special projects for NASA which was kind of a “boys only club” back in the day but I worked really hard to add value and to be accepted as a contributing peer. Not only did I get accepted I was also fast tracked into management so it was a great success in this field. Then I went into the noble career of teaching young students. I had the opportunity to solve another broken thing out there and that was to offer underserved public school students the opportunity to learn the game of golf and it’s inherent core values such as honesty, integrity and perseverance. Just look at what basketball, volleyball, soccer and football has done for children to present new and wonderful opportunities and hope for a better future. My best friend Benna Cail and I co-pioneered what is now called The First Tee National School Program. We test piloted our idea with forty eight students and after nineteen years of not giving up we helped reach ten million young people! It was while I was teaching when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I just knew that I had to turn a bad thing into a good thing for others.
Q: How were you able to meet the challenges successfully?
I didn’t even begin my company Healincomfort until I understood and reverse engineered why such a high percentage of small businesses fail within the first three years. Then I followed all the brilliant and experienced entrepreneurs possible so even though many issues popped up I felt better equipped to solve these problems versus simply guessing. Thank you wonderful entrepreneurs and mentors! This is exactly why I help startups as often as I am able.