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Denton boutique helps breast cancer survivors reclaim their silhouette

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Julia Falcon, For the Denton Record-Chronicle

New research has found in the past 10 years, the number of women who choose to have their breasts removed after a cancer diagnosis has tripled. 

Many of those women will look to prosthetics to get their figures back, especially if reconstructive surgery isn't an option. In Denton's ActivMedical Equipment store at 2317 W. University Drive, a specialty shop-within-a-shop helps local women get their silhouettes back after a mastectomy. 

For more than 37 years, Roses Woman's Care Boutique has offered both breast forms and bras for women who have had mastectomies. In 1995, longtime pharmacist James Gardner split his Denton Prescription Shop into two parts: a pharmacy at a separate location and ActivMedical, which houses Roses Woman's Care Boutique.

“Back in the old days, a breast form was just a piece of silicone with a mold,” Gardner said. “There were no choices."

With 15 years of experience under her belt, Roses staffer Yvonne McDonald said she wants women to feel normal again by fitting them with the right prosthesis and bra, not just for their body but for their personality, too.

With a certification in fitting for prostheses, McDonald said she felt like this was her calling — to help women feel normal again.

“When you see a lady completely flat, I think it is very impactful,” McDonald said. “One lady said she can hug her grandson on her other side now since she has the prosthesis.”

Just like a shoe store, Roses offers ladies who have had mastectomies many options.

There are two types of forms of prostheses. One is a whipped silicone prosthesis that goes into regular bras. The other is the "swim form" prosthesis that goes in swimsuits. Both are made of silicone that is significantly lighter than older forms. 

A typical prosthesis is soft and made to feel like a natural breast. McDonald said some women make their own with socks so they don’t feel the void of a missing breast.

As their fitter and the person who bills customers for their prosthetics and bras, McDonald said she has formed relationships with the customers over the past 15 years.

“We have customers from Decatur, Oklahoma, and even a lady in south Florida,” McDonald said. “I’ll send her what she needs.”

As for expanding, Gardner and McDonald said they would like to see a "standalone" shop for Roses, but not quite yet.

Garder said many people don’t realize where Roses is and will go to a shop in the Dallas area instead.

“Well see about 10 people a week, which, if we were standalone, it wouldn’t be impressive,” Gardner said. “But we do other things. We are marketing more aggressively now.”

The store's other offerings include CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) consultations for people who suffer from snoring and sleep apnea, braces, wheelchairs and fittings for compression hosiery.

Each breast prosthesis costs $320, but medical insurance often covers most or all of the cost. The prostheses are sold with two-year warranties, so every two years a woman can come in and get another one or two.

“I don’t think there has been much change, just a lot of growth,” McDonald said. “There are more options for colors of bras. It’s win-win for them and us, too.”

FEATURED PHOTO: Yvonne McDonald, left, and James Gardner are pictured Tuesday at Roses Woman's Care Boutique, a Denton shop that helps women who had mastectomies after breast cancer (or other conditions) get their shape back.
Jeff Woo/DRC