Local boutique offers breast cancer patients special lingerie, hope

February 15, 2013

Video story by Hope Lee
Online story by Samra Khawaja
VCU InSight

RICHMOND, Va.— The battle to fight breast cancer is a process that can be emotionally draining. And for survivors, facing these obstacles doesn’t stop even after undergoing surgery.

Oftentimes breast cancer patients go through mastectomy surgery, which removes one or both breasts. While the decision is a step toward recovery, it can make survivors feel lost in the process.

To help them get back on their feet again, The Pink Ribbon Boutique in Richmond offers a helping hand.

Located off of Three Chopt Road near Richmond’s west end area, the store opened its doors last April. It is the only store of its kind in the greater Richmond area.

“[We want to be] a great resource for patients that need mastectomy products, that need wigs, that need compression garments and see that as a comforting place to go,” said Barbara Dowtin, customer support manager.

Unlike most stores that cater to women with breast cancer, the shop sells both undergarments and wigs to survivors.

“It seems that I can get everything I need here and it seems kind of fragmented everywhere else,” said Heather Sutton, breast cancer patient and Pink Ribbon customer.

Pink Ribbon’s certified mastectomy and prosthetic fitter, Tamara Butler, said each customer’s experience serves the purpose of why the boutique originally opened.

“They’re low and their self-esteem is shot,” Butler said. “But you know that you’re here and that you can give them a product that’s going to turn their life around and make them feel whole again.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, 232,340 women will contract breast cancer in 2013, with 39,620 deaths.