Smart Woman: Specialized Clothing Store Helps Women With Breast Cancer

Published 08/13 2014 04:41PM

Updated 08/13 2014 06:31PM

Facing the realities of breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating physically and emotionally. A mastectomy can leave women feeling like they have few options when it comes to clothing.

Back in the 80's, due to cancer, Roxanne Kramer had one of her breast removed. Just 34-years-old she wasn't happy with the selection of bras for women like her, so she did something about it.

"Decided to go out and start the business," said Kramer.

Together with a friend, Roxanne started her business "Always A Woman," a self proclaimed mastectomy boutique. It caters to women who have had one or both breasts removed.

"We wanted a lot of variety.  We want them to be able to get a swimsuit anytime they want.  And most of all, we wanted to be certified fitters that knew how to measure, and knew how to fit a bra properly," said Roxanne.

When a woman comes in and gets fitted by a certified staff member, then they get matched with the right size prosthesis which is usually made of silicon. The 'breast' is versatile, it can go into mastectomy-friendly bras, swimsuits, dresses, and even active wear.

"Technology has changed quite a bit in the comfort level and in choices.  We have a lot more choices, we have colored bras now, we have strapless," said Roxanne.

The store helps 6 to 700 women a year, and most of the staff at "Always A Woman" have had mastectomies too. Anya Widenhoff came into the shop just last year.

"I really didn't want a prosthesis.  I was a little concerned it was going to be heavy and not feel good, not be comfortable.  But the ladies fixed me up and made me feel amazing.  And I'll never forget the feeling."

Now, Anya is training to work at the store, something she says is extremely therapeutic.

"I wanted to give to others what they gave to me."

As for Roxanne, after 25 years of helping others, doctors recently found tumors in her other breast.

"And I'm now being treated with chemo that's going very well," said Roxanne.

She is still working and isn't stopping anytime soon,

"I think every time a woman smiles or gives me a hug or writes me a note, I say to myself, what I'm doing is worth it."

Something thousands of women over the years would likely agree with.

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