Unfortunately, many women undergo breast surgery each year. Against this background, Zonta clubs in Australia have developed and now distribute breast care cushions which contribute to patients’ recovery following surgery.
In 1994, the Zonta Club of Botany Bay developed the breast care cushion. The idea came from a club member who had been given a curved cushion by a friend following a partial mastectomy and found that the cushion provided comfort while sleeping. A second club member, Ann Selle, designed the Zonta cushion with the input of nursing staff. The making and distribution of these cushions then became a service project for the club. The cushions are wrapped in cellophane and presented as a gift to women from women with no fee for this service.
Because of their acceptance by patients recovering from breast surgery, the breast care cushion became a National Service Project of Zonta Clubs throughout Australia in 2001. Today, in the order of 10,000 cushions are distributed each year by Zonta clubs across Australia. They are produced by members of the community ranging from school girls, prisoners, work for the dole groups, retired women, nursing home residents and busy Zonta members.
The Zonta network of clubs supplies cushions to many metropolitan and regional hospitals areas and through cancer support groups. The costs of this project are met by Zonta Clubs’ fund-raising efforts, suppliers donating materials and gifts from recipients. The cushion provides patients recovering from breast surgery with comfort, protection and also serves as a ‘security blanket’. Moreover, it is tangible evidence that more fortunate women in the community are concerned with the overall issue of breast cancer and are prepared to offer their support. While the breast care cushion project originated in Australia, Zonta clubs around the world have taken up the service project.
ZCBB members find their involvement in this project rewarding and it generates recognition of Zonta and the club’s objective of enhancing the status of women. “Stuffing days”, held as required, involve members and friends joining together to complete the cushions ready for packaging and delivery to St George Hospital while enjoying the company of likeminded people. In 2019 and 2020 two packing days held at Club Menai in conjunction with their staff and some local residents resulted in the completion of 800 cushions. Local club grants have helped finance this project in recent year.