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By Jann Lee

For most of us, getting in and out of clothes is second nature.

But for those who have undergone chemotherapy, it’s a struggle to get dressed.

To address these needs, Ryerson fashion professors Sandra Tullio-Pow and Sue Barnwell designed an innovative clothing and accessories line called Sansu for women suffering from swelling in their upper body.

Joyce Nyhof-Young, a researcher at Princess Margaret Hospital said she approached the Ryerson School of Fashion to design the line. She says Ryerson University popped into her mind when she thought about the project. “It has a good reputation for fashion,” she said.

“If you look good, you feel better,” says Tullio-Pow, who joined the project after hearing the patients’ stories.

“Even with their cancer gone, these people have to deal with a swollen arm as a reminder of what they’ve gone through.”

She and Barnwell designed tops with deep arm holes and wide sleeves to camouflage the size difference between the arms. The clothes, made from a blend of soft soy, cotton and spandex, prevent skin irritation and include magnetic fasteners for easy closure.

Toping off the collection is a woman’s must-have accessory: the purse. With a hidden built-in sling, wide, adjustable straps and long-zipper tabs, the modular purse is the most popular product.

“Women have been so excited to see it and they buy it right away,” said Nyhof-Young. “Some even ask where they can buy it for their aunt living in South Africa.”

The bags will be in the National Conference for Young Women with Breast Cancer fashion show this November.

Sansu is tested and re-designed and for women of all ages. A website is on the way and 400 bags will be available initially. The creators’ goal is to make the collection available to more patients.

“We might license out the line to someone else or sell the clothes’ patterns,” said Tullio-Pow.

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