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Ismail Aijazuddin and Kristin Smith create shirts to improve quality of life in memory of friend lost to brain cancer

MADISON HEIGHTS — Inspired by their friend’s struggle against cancer, two recent Lamphere High graduates have come up with an innovative quality-of-life product for those undergoing chemotherapy.

Many patients have a port inserted in their chest under the collarbone where a nurse can insert a needle to administer chemotherapy instead of in the arm. This means patients often have to tug on their collars or lift their shirts to provide access.

But with a new shirt called a ZipTee, they can simply unzip an opening in the shirt under the left shoulder and above the left breast. It’s a T-shirt that helps preserve their sense of dignity and normalcy during chemotherapy. And it’s made from super soft material that’s easy on sensitive skin.

Ismail Aijazuddin and Kristin Smith, two Lamphere High grads now in college, first created the shirts last July. They spent the rest of the year testing them with patients and nurses, refining them based on feedback, and changing features such as shirt materials as they learned more about what people with cancer wanted.

They incorporated their organization, ZipTee, on Dec. 22, 2015 — what would’ve been the 20th birthday of their friend and classmate Kayla Kincannon, who died from brain cancer just shy of their high school graduation in May 2014.

Kayla was well-loved by everyone who knew her — a girl of deep faith wise beyond her years, fondly remembered for her kindness. She continues to inspire her friends to this day.

This includes their work bringing the Head for the Cure 5K walk/run to the Detroit area to raise money for brain cancer research. The inaugural race was in 2014 and has since raised more than $120,000 for the cause. The next race is Saturday, Sept. 17, on the Detroit Riverfront.


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