When Sandy Edie, age 65, was nearing completion of radiation and chemotherapy treatment for brain cancer, she started researching where to be fitted with a wig. Her search led her to a special place inside the same building in which she was receiving care – The Boutique at Miami Cancer Institute.
(VIDEO: The Baptist Health South Florida News Team hears from the specialized staff at The Boutique at Miami Cancer Institute about the unique and convenient products and services available there. Video by George Carvalho)
Ms. Edie met with salon specialist Olga Acosta, who made her feel at ease in selecting the wig that made her feel most comfortable and look her best. Ms. Acosta, who has more than 42 years of experience as a master cosmetologist with expertise in hair treatments for cancer patients, talks to each patient about their individual needs and wants. She explains the smooth cut – removing the patients’ hair down to the scalp – as well as how to care for their scalp.
“It’s important to be very aware of the sensitivity of the patient’s scalp after radiation,” Ms. Acosta said. “We have special medicated shampoo that reduces the itchiness, and when the time is right, we also offer shampoos and conditioners that promote hair growth.”
The Boutique carries Revlon, René of Paris and Noriko wigs, from short and sophisticated to long and glamorous. They are made of synthetic hair that retains its color and shine and can be cut and styled. In a private room, Ms. Acosta cuts hair, helps patients try on wigs and shows them proper maintenance. The customer can come back any time for restyling at no additional cost. Men are also welcome, and toupees are available. The shop also has scarves for those who prefer to be bald or to alternate with wigs.
Wigs range in price from $80 to $250, half the price of most other sellers, according to Ms. Acosta.
For many women who have breast cancer, special clothing like a mastectomy bra, is an important part of post-surgery recovery. The Boutique at Miami Cancer Institute also offers a full line of beautiful bras and other clothing, as well as a wide range of prosthetic breasts, skin-care products and compression garments.
The Boutique’s certified mastectomy fitter, Tania Spinks, consults with patients in a second private room where she talks about their medical history, what they are looking for in a bra and takes measurements.
“Patients are often anxious because they don’t know what to expect,” said Ms. Spinks, who received her mastectomy fitter certification 18 years ago from the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics. “I’m here to make them feel at ease and to help them find a comfortable bra, whether they have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy or are awaiting reconstructive surgery.”
Ms. Spinks helps the patient choose the correct size and weight prosthetic breast for her body. For women who have had a lumpectomy, there is a breast form with a fiber filling that they can place specifically where needed. There are even stylish bathing suits that accommodate a prosthesis.
“Getting the right fit is very important,” she said. “A patient may have areas of sensitive skin from radiation therapy or surgery. They have been through so much that when you see them look in the mirror and smile, it’s a wonderful feeling.”
The Boutique is located just off the first floor lobby of the Institute, making it convenient for patients who have come for doctors’ appointments, testing or treatment or to attend a class. The Boutique is a one-stop shop, making it possible for cancer patients to find everything they need in one location, rather than spending hours on the Internet searching different sites.
The expertise and compassion of the Boutique’s employees help patients facing difficult decisions.
“It’s all about making it special for the customer,” said Mireli Torres, Boutique manager. “We make them comfortable and confident, whether they are here to get their first wig or to try out some of our creams for sensitive skin.”
The Boutique at Miami Cancer Institute 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday; and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday.