The Ripple Effect of One
By Venessa Kimball
Neighbors of Circle C and Meridian magazine, October 2017 issue
The dictionary defines the noun “ripple effect” as a spreading effect or series of consequences caused by a single action or event. As laws of physics would have it, a ripple needs to have a point of impact, an origin. Once the impact has occurred, the spreading of consequences begins to unfold. We have come to find that in life, there is never just one point of impact. Of the like, there is never just one ripple containing a set series of consequences. Our lives are graced by many ripples both caused by ourselves or by others. Some of those ripples are so small they barely influence or disrupt our lives. Usually a fleeting thought to others that might have witnessed them occurring.
But sometimes there is a ripple in one’s life that so impactful, so great, so disrupting and so purpose-filled, there is no way to contain the undeniable spreading effect. But with a call to action and the drive to produce something good from something very traumatic, a new, magnificent and positive impact can be harnessed, sending a world changing ripple through the masses. This task is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage and moxie to pull off what seems impossible when you are in the throes of a life and body altering illness. Cherie B. Mathews accepted that calling and the spreading series of consequences of her impact is stepping up the fight against breast cancer.
In 2000, Cherie was living with her family in Florida when she received the news. Breast Cancer. At 40 years old, Cherie made the decision to bypass her Oncologist’s suggestion of trial medication and opted for a double mastectomy. Prior to her surgery, Cherie was told to bring one of her husband’s shirt to dress in after the operation. Cherie recalls, “Being told to bring my husband’s shirt to wear was not OK with me. I chose to bring one of my own hoodies.” No other information was given and being naive and inexperienced in what to ask, Cherie went home with those simple instructions. The day of surgery, Cherie woke with the immediate awareness of the absent portion of her body. She was without breasts. An amputation is all she could recall thinking. The nurse quickly came in to help Cherie dress. Once she had her hoodie on, she was handed 2 safety pins. As any cognizant person after a traumatic surgery would wonder, Cherie remembers asking, “Well, what do you want me to do with those?”
The nurse explained that she would need the two metal safety pins to clip the drains to her hoodie since they had to remain sewn into her chest for two to four weeks. Be it out of trauma of the life altering surgery she had just endured, or the shock of what meager provisions she had been given for one of the most invasive operations in her life, she was upset because a sprained elbow receives more recovery equipment than a mastectomy patient! If a man had surgery on his man parts, he would most definitely not leave the hospital with his wife’s skirt on and two safety pins? The more she thought about the experience she just had, both humiliating and demoralizing, the more she knew that nothing about this was right. She went home and healed, a survivor of cancer and living happily with her family, but the churning ripples of her journey of survival and the aftermath of surgery still resonated in her mind and heart.
In 2009, Cherie and her family moved to Austin and made Circle C their home. With the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of our city, her own passion to hone a magnificent and positive impact on the realm of patient postoperative comfort and healing after mastectomies was her own innovative calling. With an unshakeable vision, a mind of an inventor and a heart for humanity, Cherie was hell-bent and determined to give dignity and comfort to patients going through what she had.
Cherie needed a REAL solution for a REAL problem. The more Cherie reflected on what her nurse had told her before she left the hospital, “Women have always just suffered in silence,” Cherie made a promise that her solution would break that silence. Her concept was a super soft material with moisture management and a barely-there feel for patient comfort, velcro fasteners in the front for easy fastening and four internal pockets to manage drains. Her company name paired flawlessly with the product, Heal In Comfort. The only caveat, Cherie was not a seamstress and the idea of creating a prototype was a challenge. She remembers, “I went to Academy Sports and Outdoors and bought the softest moisture wicking shirt I could find and cut it down the middle. I went to a nearby fabric store with the shirt in hand. I must have looked pitiful when I walked in and asked for their help since my sewing experience was nil.”
Once the prototype was stitched it was time to pitch her idea and get her product out there to the patients! Cherie reflects, “My goal and social experiment was to help 100 patients with an investment of only $1000.00 so when I achieved my goal, I could encourage others they too can make a difference in society and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to start.”
With Heal in Comfort shirts holding two US Patents and four US Trademarks this is no longer just a dream. Cherie has taken a broken piece of her journey as a survivor of breast cancer and reflected healing in comfort upon 14,000 souls and counting with her unshakeable vision, her spirit of entrepreneurship, and courage to step out of the box and send a ripple of change through the world. In addition to Heal In Comfort Breast Cancer Recover Shirts for women, Cherie has created another company,The Recovery Shirt, for men who are also breast cancer survivors and patients.
While Cherie’s battle through breast cancer, her journey to achieve self-healing and her burning desire to make a difference for all of those that follow was all her own, she doesn’t forget all of the many advisors and mentors she has been blessed with along the way. To spread the rippling effect of her impactful calling even wider Cherie has extended a partnership with Gifting Care, a nonprofit 501(c)3 dedicated to bringing support and care to patients with upper-body surgery through the donation of Comfort Kits.The Comfort Kits all include a Heal In Comfort shirt among other comforting items. To date, Heal in Comfort shirts have manufactured and sold through her Certified Woman Owned Business and to pay it forward, the company has gifted to breast cancer centers across Texas providing for local women battling breast cancer including St. David’s Medical Center, Conroe Regional Medical Center, M.D. Anderson, Texas Oncology, Houston Medical Center, Lester & Sue Smith Center and Memorial Hermann.
Cherie B. Mathews is an armored ripple destined to spread and impact the fight against breast cancer and the protocol in which both men and women can heal in comfort and dignity after their fight against breast cancer and process of healing from mastectomy and upper-body surgical procedures.
What is your point of impact? What is that churning ripple surrounding you that has been aching for action to be taken? The ripple of effect of one doesn’t have to stop with just that person. It has the ability to alter and better the lives of others if you dream big enough and have the courage to step out into the unknown.
Learn more about Heal In Comfort and The Recovery Shirt at www.healincomfort.com
About the Author: Venessa Kimball
Venessa started her journey in the world of books and publishing in 2010. She writes in the Adult Urban Fantasy/ Science Fiction, Adult Contemporary Romance and both Young Adult Contemporary and Realistic Fiction genres. However, expect the unexpected from her writing since she tends to surprise her audiences with her diversity and original take in the genres she has written. Her New Adult and Adult fiction can be found under the pen name, V. Angelika. When Venessa is not writing, she is chauffeuring her three little Kimballs to sporting events, catching a movie with her hubby, and staying up way too late reading and brainstorming new projects she has brewing in her head.