Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thelma's Boutique

About a year ago, I learned of a unique local boutique that helps women who have experienced breast related-surgery. Thelma's Boutique in Rochester not only helps women before, during and after their treatment, they help women to feel good about themselves again. Going to Thelma's was a special experience for me, after I learned my grandmother was a customer there after she underwent a double mastectomy. Here is one more article in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Thelma's Boutique By Jennifer Magar
As printed in the August 2010 issue of
Rochester Woman Magazine
The needs of a woman with breast cancer extend well beyond surgery and chemotherapy. Among the many things a woman must deal with in her battle against cancer are the changes to her body and her appearance. Sandy Schwab, a registered nurse who works with patients after breast-related surgery, found that there wasn't a place that provided the post-surgery products they needed, nor the service and sensitivity they deserved.

In 1982, responding to this need, Sandy and her aunt Thelma, a then corsetiere at a leading department store, opened Thelma's Boutique. The boutique sells bras, prosthesis, head wear, swimwear and even lingerie for women who have had a mastectomy or other breast-related surgery. Additionally, Thelma's has certified fitters who help women find the perfect bra just for them. Thelma's has helped thousands of women find the best products for their needs while providing moral support as well.

Sandy says she loves that in the boutique women share their stories and intimate information with each other because its a safe place. "There's a lot of sadness," Sandy said of her customers. "But the wonderful part is, people will come feeling badly, but when they realize they can get back to normal, their confidence comes back."

Over the years, Sandy and Thelma have had to contend with tightening government regulations and in order to stay in business as a prosthetics dealer (changing coverage from insurance companies). Sandy credits the boutique's longevity to dedication to service and compassion. "I feel like it's a gift," Sandy said. "I get more, being here, than I give."

Sandy encourages women to come to Thelma's Boutique before their surgery to ask questions and learn what they can expect. Most of all, Sandy advises women to be their own advocates in their fight against breast cancer by staying informed about their procedures, what their insurance covers, and writing things down. "It can be overwhelming," Sandy said, "but the more prepared you are, the more successful your recovery is because you had a hand in it."

Sandy says the plans to carry on the boutique with her vision of service and taking care of the customers. :I love what I do," Sandy said. "It's been a very rewarding business. You never know who you're going to touch."

Thelma's Mastectomy Boutique is located at 251 Park Ave Rochester NY 14607. (585) 256-2460 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

Next month is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. That's 1,776 words a day, every day, for thirty days straight.

This will be my third year participating in NaNoWriMo. Though I haven't yet won and achieved the 50,000 word goal, NaNoWriMo has helped me get into the practice of writing every day which is an achievement in itself. My goal this year is to (finally) finish the novel I currently have in the works.

In preparation, I blew the dust off of my draft and have started planning so I can pick up where I left off.

Here's a great checklist I found on the blog of S.M. Worth to get yourself ready for NaNoWriMo 2011.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Breast Cancer Survivor: Kimberly Ray

Last year, I had the honor to interview Kimberly Ray, local radio show host and breast cancer survivor. This story was especially personal for me after my mother's breast cancer diagnosis. I loved talking with Kimberly and hearing her strength through her diagnosis and treatment.

Here is Kimberly's story.

Kimberly Ray by Jennifer Magar
As Printed in the October 2010 issue
of Rochester Woman Magazine

When Kimberly went to her doctor for bronchitis in 2008, she had never had a mammogram; she was two years overdue. But Kimberly wasn't worried: she was just 42 years old and didn't have a history of breast cancer in her family. So when her doctor referred her for a mammogram, she almost cancelled the appointment. Rather than hassle with rescheduling, Kimberly went. She was sent for an MRI and then the news came, it was breast cancer.

"I was shocked," Kimberly said of the diagnosis. "I had no breast cancer in my family. I was never a smoker. I was working out." Kimberly had two surgeries and underwent eight weeks of radiation.

As co-host of the radio morning show The Breakfast Buzz with Kimberly and Beck on 98.9 The Buzz, Kimberly continued with her regular schedule during treatment. She says she got through it by simply pretending she didn't have cancer. She awoke at 2:10 a.m. to feed her dogs and cats and went to work. "I never missed a day of work," she said, "We had a show to do." And so she kept busy, spending time with her daughter, living life as if she weren't a cancer patient.

"I didn't want to be the breast cancer radio girl," Kimberly said. She didn't want cancer to dominate the show and wanted to find a way to do what she does best, make listeners laugh. "I had to figure out, how am I going to make cancer funny?"

So Kimberly made an unusual request of her doctor, asking the doctor to take a picture of her tumor after surgery so she could post it on the radio station's website. Kimberly wanted to encourage women to get mammograms by showing them that a tumor just like hers could be in their bodies and they might not know it.

Kimberly said that she, along with co-host Beck and the show's producer, Pat, got through the show by laughing every day. "We laughed our way through it and I never cried once. And maybe that's the message; through the laughter you don't have to cry."

Cancer-free since November, Kimberly recently remarried and is feeling great. She said since being diagnosed with breast cancer, she won't put off things in her life. "I'm not going to let anything get in the way of what I want to do."

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Brow Diva

For this month's Rochester Woman Magazine, I interviewed Rochester's Brow Diva. She told me all about how she started her business as a boutique specializing exclusively on brow sculpting and filled me in on the importance of a well-sculpted brow for your overall look!
Read the full article here:

Sculpting the Perfect Brow
by Jennifer Magar
As printed in the October 2011 issue of Rochester Woman Magazine

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October is National Book Month

Book lovers unite! This month is National Book Month - it's time to pick up that book you've been meaning to read and read it!

No matter how busy life gets, I believe we are never too busy to find time to read. Read on your lunch break, read for twenty minutes before bed, read while you wait at the doctor's office this cold and flu season!

To show my support, I went to a small, non-chain bookstore and purchased Angela Sloan a novel by local author (and a former professor of mine) James Whorton, Jr.

Support bookstores or your library - the good old fashioned book is not a thing of the past!