New nonprofit helps mastectomy patients with lift chairs

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New nonprofit helps mastectomy patients with lift chairs. Watch the report from Trish Hartman on Action News at 6 p.m. on September 20, 2018.

Debbie Valenzano, from Shamong, New Jersey, is recovering from a double mastectomy. She says the hardest part of her recovery is not being able to use her arms.

"This chair is needed for a woman who can't use her arms," she said.

She's talking about her recovery chair - loaned to her for free from a new South Jersey non-profit, which provides powered lift chairs to women recovering from mastectomies.

"It brings your feet up. You can recline back. And it's comfortable. It just allows me to re-position myself as my pain changes," said Valenzano.

The organization was founded this spring when two friends - Danielle Stuffo and Danielle Koenig, both from Mount Laurel - had a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I went out and bought a chair and then my thought was - we'll just pass this chair around because I know word of mouth - there's going to be other people who are going to need it," said Koenig.

She was right. Twelve donated chairs are now in circulation. The process starts in a warehouse, where the chairs are sanitized before each use. The chairs are then delivered by Stuffo and Koenig to their new, temporary homes.

Mary Grassie is the 20th women to receive a chair. Her chair was delivered just before her surgery.

"My main worry would've been the pain afterwards. So this chair is definitely going to help," Grassie said.

Each chair comes with a blanket, pillows, cookies, plus a journal filled with entries from women who have already used the chair. Each woman who spends time in the chair can leave words of encouragement for the next recipient.

Peggy Ragazzone from Marlton, NJ was one of the first women to use the chairs, and loved the journal entry from the woman before her.

"Reading the journal, even though it was just one person's entry at the time - I remember she wrote, 'Oh I put my socks on today!' And I chuckled because I was like, 'Oh gosh I didn't even think about putting socks on! How am I going to do that?'" Ragazzone said.

Next up for Stuffo and Koenig - finding a larger vehicle for deliveries so they can help more breast cancer survivors.

"Very humbling," Stuffo said. "Knowing we're doing something And we're not even doing anything. We're just delivering a chair."

To learn more about The Recovery Chair or to donate, visit www.therecoverychair.org.

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