Breast cancer survivor finds hope at BayCare mastectomy boutique

For Susan Housewright, who resides in Clearwater, going through breast cancer was an unimaginable experience. Fighting the battle – from the diagnosis and the road to recovery – all seemed unbearable.

However, BayCare Health System’s A Place for Her, a boutique dedicated to women who undergo breast cancer surgery, made Housewright’s journey a little less stressful.  

“I didn’t think I would look in the mirror after breast cancer surgery,” said Housewright, who was diagnosed with the disease more than seven years ago. “But BayCare team members at A Place For Her made me embrace my scars and all the post-surgery imperfections.”

A Place for Her has helped transform thousands of women’s lives– providing post mastectomy, lumpectomy and reconstructive products since 1999. The boutique, which is a service provided by BayCare HomeCare, provides items such as breast forms, brassieres, post-surgical camisoles, wigs and swimwear.

BayCare  Post Mastectomy Fitter, Lisa Monid, and Diana Solomon from American Breast Care, help customers during an Open House event on Nov. 6.

“After surgery, I came into the store not knowing what the place was or how it could help me,” Housewright said. “But, the women working at the boutique helped find the right products that fit my needs – making me not only feel comfortable but also look good.”

BayCare’s A Place for Her provides fittings and delivers products to patients’ homes across the state – from Naples to Gainesville and Jacksonville area, and at its two store locations in Clearwater and Plant City, by appointment and on a walk-in basis.

These services, excluding wigs, are covered by most health insurances,” said Deborah Curtis, RN, manager of mastectomy services at BayCare’s A Place for Her. “We’re proud to say that all of our retail specialists are licensed and certified fitters. This is not a place women want to be, but, once they come in and talk to us, they feel better about themselves and the products we provide for them.”

Housewright, who wore a prosthesis for many years but switched to post-mastectomy bras after undergoing reconstructive surgery, said A Place for Her and all the women working at the boutique have been a great support system.

“A Place for Her is amazing, the women are caring and understanding,” Housewright said. “They’re like family. I encourage women, going through the same thing I did, to come in and use these services. It’s just an inspiring place to be.”

“It’s a privilege to help women like Housewright feel good after such a difficult experience,” Curtis said. “It’s such a great feeling to know that you’ve helped them wear something they thought would never wear again and also give them a sense of normalcy as they go through that journey.”

Curtis, who is a two-time breast cancer survivor herself, said most of the products are necessary for women’s overall health after breast cancer surgery.

“These items are not just good for appearance,” Curtis said. “They help with balance, reduce or avoid neck and shoulder pain. And, if women do not have reconstructive surgery, the pocketed bras, prostheses and post-operation camisoles, are necessary items for the rest of their lives.”

Besides those products, the boutique also carries lingerie, nightgowns, dresses, swimwear, active wear and a full wig room – for those going through chemotherapy.

For more information about A Place for Her, visit their web page here.

This is a special rock made for A Place for Her by a breast cancer survivor, who’s used the boutique services.

Story by Vjollca "Viola" Hysenlika