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Metro Detroit, Royal Oak

Nonprofit looks for help creating pillows for surgical recovery

February 4, 2014

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After her double mastectomy, Sabrina Mayhew uses a pillow she received in the hospital to prevent her seatbelt from irritating her healing surgical wounds. She now heads Angel Pillow Project, a nonprofit that is seeking designers and sewing enthusiasts to attend a workshop Feb. 3 about how to make heart pillows for breast cancer survivors.

ROYAL OAK — After Sabrina Mayhew’s double mastectomy about two years ago, her recovery was painful.

“After my surgery, I was in extreme discomfort,” said Mayhew, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2011. “I was in a lot of pain.”

Additionally, the overload of information thrown her way from the doctors and nurses monitoring her recovery created stress.

The first thing that brought her comfort in the hospital was a pillow sewn into the shape of a heart.

Today, Mayhew — the wife of Detroit Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew — still carries that pillow with her, even though she has long ago healed from the surgery. Last summer, she founded a nonprofit group, Angel Pillow Project, to provide women undergoing the same procedure with pillows.

Now, Angel Pillow Project and the Detroit Garment Group are calling all stylists and sewing enthusiasts to design the next great pillow for breast cancer survivors during a workshop at 2 p.m. Feb. 3 at Gilda’s Club, 3517 Rochester Road in Royal Oak.

“It’s really going to be a unique way for people to showcase their unique style,” said Sherrie Handrinos, a Mayhew representative.

At the club, participants will learn how to sew the pillows and will then have 30 days to design their own pillow. The winner’s creation will be on display in several metro Detroit hospitals and will be recreated for breast cancer survivors across the region.

As Mayhew learned, the pillows can be therapeutic and help deal with discomfort.

Mayhew used hers to prevent the seatbelt from rubbing against her chest on the ride home from the hospital. She also used it for sitting and sleep support.

After her recovery, she wanted to find the person who designed her pillow. She found Lorraine Stevens, who had made the pillows for multiple patients in the hospital.

Today, Stevens, Mayhew and other volunteers have combined forces to help even more women receive pillows. Since the creation of Angel Pillow Project, it has delivered about 100 free pillows to patients recovering from breast cancer surgery at the Beaumont Hospital Troy campus, the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and the Botsford Cancer Center.

In addition to coming up with a new design for the pillows, Mayhew hopes the upcoming project will help
spread the word about the initiative so that more women receive the pillows.

To RSVP for the Feb. 3 event at Gilda’s Club, contact Sherrie Handrinos at (734) 341-6859 or


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