An Online Group Helped Me Get Rid of Post-Mastectomy Items I Didn’t Need

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I made too many late-night purchases for things that I thought I’d need after my mastectomy. Thankfully, the STOMP group helped me get rid of some of these items.

How many times have you bought something – thinking it would work great – when in reality, it didn’t, and that item ended up sitting in a drawer or a closet collecting dust until you finally sent it off to the thrift shop or threw it in the trash?

Maybe you live in a tiny 1920s-era Spanish bungalow, like I do, with no storage and a garage that won’t even fit a modern car. You don’t have room to hold onto that body pillow that you bought for your mastectomy recovery and then never had a use for again. Or for that closet full of wigs that you no longer need now that your hair has grown back in, the chemo curls have gradually relaxed, and you look decent again.

On the other hand, maybe you have found yourself in need of something that is too expensive for your current budget, or you can’t even find due to the supply chain disruptions. Perhaps you’re on the hunt for a new lymphedema sleeve to help relieve pain and swelling. Or a post-mastectomy bra or a button-up blouse.

Does any of this sound familiar? Then read on, sisters.

Before I had my double mastectomy in 2015, I purchased a variety of (what I thought would be) necessities for my post-mastectomy life and healing. I bought button-up blouses, a body pillow, the most uncomfortable post-mastectomy bra ever, soft bralettes, sports bras and so much more that I thought I needed.

However, once the surgery was done and the anesthesia-induced late night online shopping had subsided, the true healing began, and I really started to discover what worked best and what I didn't need. Now, these items are taking up precious real estate in my home and I am ready to move them on to their new home.

Here’s where STOMP, or Sisterhood of Traveling Mastectomy Products, comes in. The concept is similar to a Buy Nothing Group where members can offer up items or can request items for free, with the only money changing hands being postage, if requested. From wigs to body pillows to pajamas with drain pockets, there’s a little bit of everything related to mastectomy products in this Facebook group comprised of breast cancer sisters.

For the newly-diagnosed who are just starting the treatment process or the long-timers who just need some extra closet space, this is such a great idea and resource. Knowing that something is not being tossed into a landfill and can be reused to help someone else going through surgery and treatment is another level of support and sisterhood.

Within 24 hours of my first post in the STOMP group I had a private message. A group member was interested in what I had to offer, so I neatly packaged up the product and enclosed a handwritten note and sent the package on its way. My unused lymphedema sleeves are now heading off to their new home, traveling across the country to help someone else and I have more room in my dresser drawer.

There’s something about gifting to others that makes both the giver and the receiver feel good. Most of these post-mastectomy items get used for a very short time or, often, not at all. In a society full of waste, STOMP is a brilliant way to pay it forward or acquire something you mightneed along the way without spending unnecessarily. And let’s face it, with inflation the way it is, nothing is getting any cheaper! And who doesn’t like getting something in the mail, besides bills?

“One must know not just how to accept a gift, but with what grace to share it.” ~ Maya Angelou

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