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 www.thelmasboutique.com