AT 64, Cheryl Pollock never expected to be a medical entrepreneur on the cusp of taking her game-changing product to the world.
Nor did she plan to give away her job to focus on ChezLeon, the passive massage wear she designed to help those suffering lymphedema or edema – the blockage of lymph vessels which leads to excessive fluid retention. It can occur after cancer treatment and affects 45 million people globally.
“I had no idea the journey I was going to go on – it’s pushed me to expand myself a lot,” says the modest Waratah resident.
Ms Pollock has patents for ChezLeon in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Europe, with the UK and US in the offing, and needs seed funding to get it to market.
Her entrepreneurial journey began in 2009, when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Ms Pollock, who studied mechanical drawing and engineering at TAFE and has wide experience in engineering and building, had a total hysterectomy and the lymph nodes in her groin removed.
About six months later, Ms Pollock had swelling and pain in her groin. Her GP advised her to massage the area to get the fluid to move, and wear compression bandages. Unable to find compression wear for the groin, and that was suited to wear in summer, she hit the internet. She realised she needed a material that massaged the skin and fate intervened when, at work one day, a tradie showed her a small piece of pool cover akin to a dense bubble wrap. Placing it in her underwear, the material’s resistance on her skin eased her pain.
Seven years later, she has developed an insert with bubbles that discreetly massages the body and may assist breast cancer patients but also those with all types of cancer, lymphoedema and edema.
“I had to do a fair bit of testing out prior to be able to get anyone to acknowledge I was on to something,” she says, adding that a $60,000 federal government grant was crucial in assisting her product development, so too advice from The Business Centre in Newcastle.
ChezLeon’s first product is a bra insert for breast cancer patients and there are plans for inserts for other body areas.
Ms Pollock says the people she assists keep her motivated to continue on her journey.
“What I have realised is that whatever you do in life, all the ups and downs, is an accumulation of a wealth of knowledge and experience that can and should be utilised to benefit society and help grow yourself,” she says.
“Life is about evolution of yourself, society, the planet and the universe.
“I have had a lot of knocks, obstacles as well as opportunities and it’s the accumulation of all that that gave me the skills to do what I have done and take on the challenge to see this through to fruition.”
ChezLeon Passive Massage Wear is on Facebook.