Weight loss after chemo/surgery for mesothelioma

March 27, 2008

One thing that mesothelioma patients have to contend with after undergoing chemotherapy and/or surgery is weight loss. A loss of 30-40 pounds isn’t uncommon, and although there are plenty of people who have weight to spare, the issue is much more difficult for patients who start off lean. Since the surgery, chemotherapy, and the cancer itself can all work to greatly depress appetite, lean patients who shed 30 pounds may find themselves losing most, if not all, of the natural padding on their backside.

Lois Schwarting, meso spouse and caretaker extraordinaire, invented a solution for her husband Marty that makes it much easier for him to sit down: what she calls a “butt pillow.” By stacking several layers of eggshell foam and enclosing it with a pillowcase, Marty has a lightweight, portable, and eminently comfortable cushion that he can use whenever he sits. Lois has sent the photo below to show the type of foam, as well as instructions about how to make the pillow:

“Here’s pics of how I built a butt pillow for Marty. Then I made a pillowcase right size to slip over and stitched end closed. Use some E6000 glue to hold the pillows in place, and then draw yarn through the 3 layers (loop of yarn in the valley part of foam so not irritate skin. Just tie in a bow on the bottom layer to help hold in place! Marty’s “butt pillow” is usually in a recliner which he usually sits in, but it or the “spare one” is taken with them when leaving house and ….. (he uses it in the other places)

“Some people have weight loss and body wasting caused by cancer even before diagnosis and it continues during surgery or chemo, so this can really make life more comfortable.

“Here are dimensions of the foam pieces:
Purchase 1-1/2 thick egg-crate foam.
Cut four pieces 6 inches by 9 inches.
Cut one piece 9 inches by  18 inches.

“E6000 glue works great, as it will not “melt” or “eat” the foam. Apply a few drops of glue to the “bumps” of the eggcrate side of the foam in a couple of places. Stack the foam pieces together as pictured. For added stability, run some yarn from the bottom piece of foam up through the small pieces, making sure loop yarn is in the middle, and pull back through to underside and tie in a knot or bow.

“Caution: Even a small bow made a ‘red bump – sore spot’ on Marty’s skin when I’d tied yarn in a bow in the depression of the top foam! I made a pillowcase-type cover, slipped it over foam and stitched the end closed. I made two “butt pillows” so that when one gets squashed from a lot of use, I replace it with the second and let the squashed one plump back up. My first ‘prototype’ was for a trip to Alaska. I had folded over some fabric alongside the length of the 17-inch foam and drew cord through it. I slung it  on my shoulder and had it ready to put on a bus seat, train seat, or wheelchair seat. I had made that one with only two layers foam, but he likes the 3-layer foam pillow better! For back comfort, we have a piece of foam 15 inches by 21 inches and 1 inch thick, which is slipped inside a pillowcase and used behind Marty’s back when he travels.”
“Butt” pillow

Pillow foam

Finished pillow 1

Finished pillows, upper and lower

Finished pillow 2

Sweet doggie not included!!!