Fasteners on the MCCARD Clothing T-shirts make accessing the port a snap
After their mothers were diagnosed with cancer, Sarah Ardalani and husband Matt McCarrick got to work designing fashionable, affordable tees that make the fight easier.
Two months after her wedding, Sarah Ardalani should have been celebrating. Instead, she was at City of Hope cancer treatment and research center.
Her mom had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
Sarah took two months off her Los Angeles County job to shuttle her mom to oncologist appointments followed by multiple rounds of chemotherapy. She was desperate to do more as she watched her mom lose hair and struggle with weight gain.
“She didn’t recognize herself,” Sarah says. “I felt so helpless.”
To ease the process of accessing her chest port, used for blood draws and chemo, Sarah bought the only cancer-friendly shirt she could find: a baseball-style top with zipper.
“Are you kidding?” her feisty mom shot back. “Do you want me to feel worse?”
The top was unattractive and uncomfortable.
So Sarah and husband Matt McCarrick decided to design their own. Now a year later, they’re more than designing.
Next month, they’ll launch MCCARD Clothing, a line of lightweight sleeveless and long-sleeve T-shirts and sweatshirts with silver snaps specifically for women undergoing medical treatments.
It’s been a lesson in patience and understanding for the couple. While Sarah struggled with watching her mom fight the reoccurring blood cancer, she also felt alone. Matt wasn’t responding to Sarah’s cry for support—not because he didn’t want to, but he couldn’t open up to her. Until one day he broke down.
“I don’t want this for you,” Matt confessed. “I don’t want this for your mom.”
He knew where his wife and her family were headed because he had been there. Eight years prior, his mom, too, had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Matt knew bone marrow and stem cell transplants were in their future. He also knew this cancer would never be cured.
“While I took care of my mom,” Sarah says, “Matt took care of me.”
Sarah Ardalani and Matt McCarrick (far left) with their moms and siblings at a Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation 5K.
They enrolled in a pattern-making class they found on Groupon. Next, the L.A. Fashion District in search of comfortable fabric. Quality control was important so they decided to stay local.
Manufacturers, Sarah says, weren’t interested.
“We were a small, emerging company with no real experience,” Sarah says. “No one wanted to take a chance on us.”
They met with a major fashion vendor and caught a break. One of the owners had been through cancer. She was willing to help.
The couple refinanced their house and finalized samples. Then it was time for the real test.
Sarah returned to City of Hope’s Positive Image Center that supplies wigs, undergarments and more to cancer patients. If they donated a bunch of shirts, would the center hand them out in exchange for feedback?
Sure thing, they responded.
Within a couple of months the results were in: The shirts were a hit.
“Soft and comfortable,” read one survey, while another noted the “great fit” and “quality snaps” on the jersey/spandex tops.
“Every person has been affected by cancer, it’s a disease that still affects us,” Sarah says. “We’re invested. This is what we can do to help our moms and other women who are undergoing treatment feel more like themselves.”