For women healing from breast cancer surgery, there may be no one who understands their state of mind better than Karen Bierwagen, the lead mastectomy fitter at Shine, the retail store in South Lake Union operated by Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
How do you thank someone for saving your life? Ellen Nottingham has had two years to ponder that question.
Diagnosed in the spring of 2016 with acute myeloid leukemia at a large hospital in Seattle, Nottingham was told by a team of three doctors that she had two weeks to live. One of them remained in the room after the other two left and offered a different option, saying quietly, “You could go to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and see if they have a clinical trial you could join.”
Every Tuesday in October, Vanessa Skay, CFm, Certified Fitter after Mastectomy, for Seattle Cancer Care Alliance will answer your questions about bras, bra care, and the perfect bra fit on Shine cancer specialties store's Facebook page. Vanessa has over six years of experience in this very specialized field. “My grandmother started a specialty bra boutique in 1988 in her home and her business grew as people requested post-mastectomy products,” Vanessa says. Her grandmother’s shop had their own sewing machines and could fit women from size 28AA to 56N cups.
SCCA’s Shine boutique turns one year old this month. Jewelry, hats, and beautiful scarves, also found at the SCCA’s Rain or Shine gift shop, are in abundance at Shine. They sell everything happy, trendy, and tenderly supportive of patients, with an expanded selection of gifts and cancer-specific specialty items, within an atmosphere of light and laughter. These retail stores also provide a wonderful opportunity for folks who wish to support patients and give back to the community as volunteers. The corps of retail volunteers at SCCA’s shops are remarkable people who enjoy making others feel comfortable and cared for. Want to join them? They are looking for volunteers for the following shifts: