My mother/best friend was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer in December 2008. She chose not to be treated at all as she remembered what her Grandmother had gone through decades ago and still passed from the cancer. With some gentle persuasion from her loved ones, she decided to get treatment. She was prescribed chemotherapy prior to surgery as her tumor was the size of a softball and they wanted to reduce it to hopefully, get it all out.
In turn, they gave her the option of having one or both breasts removed even though the tumor was only in her right breast. She chose to have them both removed because she couldn’t see herself going through this procedure again in the future.
After the surgery they stitched Jackson Pratt drains into her side. It is a suction drainage device used to pull excess fluid from the body by constant suction. The device consists of a flexible plastic bulb – shaped something like a hand grenade – that connects to an internal plastic drainage tube. Removing the plug and and squeezing the bulb removes air, which creates a lower air pressure within the drainage tubing.
These drains are very cumbersome. During recovery from surgery, the incisions will be tender and that incision from surgery will be tender if pulled on. The recommendation is to use safety pins to secure the drains to your clothing by the drain’s tag or cap loop (which causes bunching in the clothing). It is also recommended to loop the drains through a string while bathing to ensure that they don’t bounce around, get caught, or pulled on. This is difficult, particularly after breast surgery, as your range of motion is quite limited. The ‘Drain Necklace’ can be used during bathing, as well as daily use and will encourage the patient to reclaim their independence after such an invasive surgery.
These drains are typically left in from anywhere for a week to three weeks (or longer) depending on the amount of fluid still draining. During the process, seeing my mother struggle with these drains (her’s were in for a little over three weeks), I created ‘The Drain Necklace’ which would accommodate a single or double drain.