Joanies are the new Johnnies

By Jessica Cox & Brittney Welch

We all know or know of someone who has recovered, has died, or is living with breast cancer. In her lifetime, a woman has a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer, the most common cancer among women. At this time, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Nearly every one of these women has had a mammogram; during this procedure, any of the women would have been grateful for a more accommodating and more comfortable hospital gown.

A breast cancer survivor herself, Joan Morris, professor in the Fashion Design Department at Lasell College, had to endure many checkups in those uncomfortable hospital gowns known as Johnnies. Morris, however, determined to combine fashion with community service and devised a brilliant plan to make a woman feel more at ease during her appointments.

Already experiencing anxiety and fear, a patient is even more uncomfortable and embarrassed when she puts on a typical Johnny. When she dresses in this awful excuse for a gown, the opening is inconveniently in the back, while the mammogram is taking place in the front. It just doesn’t make any sense! This is where the “Joanie” project comes in. Joan Morris redesigned the hospital gown as a “Joanie.” A Joanie closes like a robe, tying in the front rather than opening in the back where tying is difficult. The Joanie is made of durable fabric, comes in solid, cheerful colors, and is even offered in different lengths and sizes to accommodate a diverse group of women. 
The goal of the Joanie Project is to make seven hundred Joanies for the Newton-Wellesley Hospital. This is an immense commitment, and there are few volunteers. If you’d like to participate on Tuesdays between 1:00 and 2:30 PM or on Fridays between 1:00 and 4:00 PM, please stop by the Yamawaki building on the Lasell College campus. You don’t need to know how to work a sewing machine; if you have had experience with scissors, can trace a pattern with chalk, or know how to use an iron, you will be helping the Newton-Wellesley Hospital and its patients. You’ll be supporting a great cause, and Lasell students can even use their participation in this project to earn a linked credit!

One day, we may see the Joanie design at every hospital around the world. It’s new, it’s fresh, and, frankly, it’s better suited to its purpose. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a bright idea that was born and took shape in the Fashion Design Department at Lasell College? Just an FYI: Joanies are the new Johnnies.

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