Boutique Offers Options and Hope for Breast Cancer Survivors
Women diagnosed with breast cancer face a harrowing journey. The times are scary, calling for understanding, compassion--and help with what’s ahead. “I know what to expect because I’ve been through it myself,” said Bev Ramsey. She has experienced the surgery, mastectomy and post-surgery problems, chemotherapy, radiation and the lymphedema that can follow.
Ramsey operates the Pink Ribbon Boutique. It is a business dedicated to helping women through the turmoil of facing breast cancer, including the support and products they will need. At Pink Ribbon, women find a kindred soul. “I help mentor women through the process,” Ramsey pointed out. She considers “cancer coaching” much more important than the products she offers.For years, her business was located in Russellville. Many women from there still seek her out. She moved the operation to Fort Smith last October. Pink Ribbon is located at 601 S. 21st St.
“Following surgery, women need a post-surgery camisole,” she explained. This is a camisole designed to hold drain tubes, and this can be customized for individual needs and comfort. The camisole not only serves a useful purpose, but also offers some form so that women do not leave the hospital flat chested – with the visual reminder of the trauma to both body and psyche.
“Once surgery is over, then you get chemotherapy--and you will lose all your hair, among other things,” she noted. “Following surgery, or before surgery, the doctor will probably suggest reconstruction.” This is a process about which Ramsey is passionate. “When a mastectomy is performed, women basically undergo an amputation. At a time when a woman is going through an emotional as well as physical crisis, she often does not understand or realize the resources available to help her make educated decisions. Consequently, her only source of information is that which is coming from the medical staff,” relates Ramsey as she remembers her own situation. “I was fortunate,” she continues. “I chose to not have the reconstructive surgery immediately following the amputation of my breasts. Rather, I gave my body an opportunity to undergo the chemo and radiation treatments and heal. This not only was beneficial physically, but it allowed me time to emotionally process what was taking place.”“Once my body had healed and I had done some research, I was once again given the choice to undergo the reconstruction process. I opted to wear a prosthesis rather than put my body through the pain and ordeal of another surgery. This decision also gave my family a breather from the ongoing process,” Ramsey concluded.
Ramsey emphasizes that most women undergoing the mastectomy procedure are under-educated and not aware of the many options available. Nor are they aware of the lymphedema that can possibly follow. Her goal is to mentor, teach and work with women to help them become aware that there are options, and there is support for them as they face this harrowing journey.
At Pink Ribbon Boutique, custom breast forms are available, but Medicare does not cover custom prosthetics, she said. And there is a risk of lymphedema--presenting additional problems involving swelling in the extremities. If it goes untreated, lymphedema presents a host of additional medical problems.