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Special pillows offer comfort for women facing surgery

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By The Staff

Larry Rowell

KPA Intern

Everyone has a favorite pillow. And some local women have one made especially for them.

The heart-shaped pillows that Edna Gunsaules sews for women who have undergone breast cancer and OB-GYN surgery meets a need.

Susan Blevins, a breast cancer survivor and recipient of one of the pillows, said the pillow actually helped ease the pain after having her lymph nodes removed during breast cancer surgery.

Blevins still uses the pillow today.

"It's a very precious thing to me," she said. "The shape is perfect; nothing else helped me get to sleep like the pillow."

A group of homemakers called the "Sew n Sews" heard about the need for the pillows several years ago through the local extension agency, Gunsaules said.

The extension office offers educational programs to homemakers' groups each month, according to Becky Nash, Taylor County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. While the homemakers' programs offered by the extension service are not necessarily for charitable purposes, Nash said that educating people about a need often motivates them to action.

That's how Gunsaules and her group started making pillows for female patients. The "Sew n Sews" originally numbered about 16 women but are now down to just Gunsaules.

She has only kept count the past couple of years of the number of pillows the group made - 134.

Gunsaules said Campbellsville Apparel donates the material for the pillows. She cuts out the patterns for the pillows in her home and sews them shut except for a small opening at the top where the stuffing material goes.

She then takes the pillows to the Extension Office. Pat Webster, a member of the Taylor Regional Hospital Auxiliary, delivers them to the hospital where auxiliary member Margie Leach stuffs the pillows with material paid for by the auxiliary.

Margaret McVay, director of the Women's Center at the hospital, takes the finished pillows and makes sure that every female having surgery gets one.

The pillows are a popular item with the women facing OB-GYN surgery, McVay said. Many women have heard about the pillows by word of mouth, she said, and ask for them before the surgery.

A woman who has undergone this type of surgery finds relief, especially when she coughs, by holding the pillow against her abdomen, McVay said.

Leach has a neighbor who received a pillow after surgery. She said the neighbor calls the pillow "her best friend."

As an auxiliary member, Leach can be found on Wednesdays manning the information desk at TRH. It's also where she stuffs the pillows.

"I see ladies walk out the door with the pillows and I feel good knowing the relief it gives them," Leach said.

- Larry Rowell is a Kentucky Press Association summer intern. Contact him at lrowell@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.