The well-known saying “Necessity is the mother of invention” can be seen firsthand with the creation of the Shower Shirt Mastectomy Garment. This brilliant clothing item was invented by breast cancer patient Lisa F. Crites who had the idea for the garment after enduring a bilateral mastectomy over two years ago.
Crites was told not to shower for two to three weeks following her surgery and this advice encouraged her to begin a search for a garment that was impervious to water. She failed to located the proper protective gear and found through her personal experience that there was a need she could fill. Mastectomy patients are advised to avoid bathing as a way to prevent infection from entering surgical drain sites. Tap water contains dangerous bacteria that can cause infection requiring a patient to be treated with antibiotics or even skin grafts for extreme cases.
Crites stated that she was forced to use saran wrap or sometimes trash bags to protect her surgery site and when she spoke with other patients who had undergone mastectomy surgery, they often used the same items. Speaking with other patients was an eye opening experience for the Florida cancer survivor and after sixteen months of development, the Shower Shirt is currently on the market. Crites graduated in 1985 after attending Richland High School, which is located in Essex. She also became a college graduate in 1989 after receiving her education from Murray State University in Kentucky.
The Shower Shirt protects a patient from infection after surgery and the invention has been approved by the American Cancer Society. Walmart.com offers patients a medical device shopping section where they can purchase the garment. The waterproof clothing item can also be ordered on the Shower Shirt website. The American Cancer Society has added it into their “TLC” catalog, which offers special merchandising to cancer patients. Furthermore, an international supplier has decided to stock the shirt and will be selling it in approximately 36 countries. Crites is currently working with a consulting company in North Carolina to extend her invention to other U.S. cities as well.
One breast cancer patient expressed her gratitude for the product by saying the Shower Shirt is essential for every mastectomy patient. Crites is hoping that eventually her invention will be given to mastectomy patients as part of a recovery kit, just like hospitals do for women who have just given birth. Crites has pointed out how a mastectomy is a similarly defining moment and women need the emotional support that this equipment can provide.
The Shower Shirt has been filed with the FDA and Crites is waiting for her patent to be approved. She has expressed confusion over the fact that women have been faced with the trauma of mastectomies for at least 70 years in the United States and she couldn’t understand why she was the first to invent this type of product. However, she has discovered that the idea was simply overlooked in the medical community due to a deficiency regarding clinical data. Most individuals are unaware of the fact that patients cannot take a shower until the surgical drains have been removed.
Lisa Crites’ invention was a much needed creation that will help thousands of mastectomy patients all over the world. The cost of her garment is $85, but the company is looking into reimbursement from Medicare along with patient’s private medical insurers.
The Shower Shirt is not just used for mastectomy patients. Doctors are also recommending it for patients who must guard a catheter during a shower in addition to patients with infusion pumps, wound vacuum assisted closures, lung surgery patients and transplant patients. It can safely be used for most post-surgical patients who require a surgical drain after their procedures.
The waterproof garment looks a bit like a streamlined bolero jacket. Often, breast cancer survivors wear the Shower Shirt later as a sign of winning their health battle. Lisa Crites invented her first prototype out a beauty salon wrap. The Shower Shirt is constructed out of anti-microbial material and not only protects patient’s incision and surgical drain sites, but supports the added weight of the drainage equipment.
Sadly, approximately 100,000 women in the United States alone are forced to endure lifesaving mastectomies every year. The procedure is done to treat the most common form of cancer that women face, which is breast cancer. For women, it is the second leading cause of death from cancer with lung cancer in the number one spot.
Crites stated that her intention is to improve the way a patient feels physically after undergoing a mastectomy. She reasons that when a patient can clean her body and feel physically uplifted, then her emotional well-being will also increase.
You can also watch an interview with Lisa Crites about how the shower shirt came to be: