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ShopWellWithYou.com:  Personal Shopping Service for Women with Cancer
Emily Spivak

It was the second time in three years that I had gone shopping with my mother for clothes since she had been diagnosed.  She had just had surgery for breast cancer three weeks prior.  My mother and I were looking for clothing that was not an obstacle (not something to struggle into) but instead something she could easily wear that was comfortable and attractive.

Out of our search, an idea began to form in my head.  I wanted to use clothing to help my mother feel better about herself to improve her overall wellness. Based upon this desire, the concept behind Shop Well with You took shape.

I had observed the impact of medication, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments upon my mother.  Over three episodes of breast cancer and one episode of thyroid cancer, she gained and lost weight, lost her hair and wore a wig and hats and developed an ashen complexion.  Clothing did not fit her as a result of her many operations.  I watched her struggle to find a wig that didn't look fake, buy makeup for her sallow complexion and find clothes that were comfortable yet stylish. 

My mother is a "hip" and energetic woman and she refused to sacrifice that because of her illness.  When she did put herself together in the morning, her overall disposition improved.   I spoke to my mother as well as other women in the cancer community and they all voiced a need for an individualized service that gave them tools to improve their appearance.   

Located in New York City, this not-for-profit organization is a free, individualized service that matches a specially trained personal shopper with a client from hospitals and support organizations to identify clothing appropriate to her needs at a retail store of the woman's choice.  Using clothing as a means towards individual empowerment and healing, Shop Well with You is a wellness program that gives each woman the tools to boost morale and self-confidence which may have been affected due to the changes to her body as a result of cancer and its treatments. 

For example, a woman may be looking for a shirt that buttons down the front or back since a mastectomy has limited her arm's mobility, or a woman wearing a colostomy bag for colon or ovarian cancer may need pants or a skirt that will discreetly hide the medical apparatus.  Shop Well with You will provide clothing solutions by acknowledging that appearance can have significant and positive effects on treating cancer.

Shop Well with You is affiliated with retail stores of varying price ranges including but not limited to Eileen Fisher, Kenneth Cole, the Limited Stores, and Saks Fifth Avenue.  Hospitals and support groups such as Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Mount Sinai, Cancer Care and SHARE refer clients to Shop Well with You.

I am proud of Shop Well with You's progress thus far.  I have forged many exciting relationships this year with participating organizations and companies and I have an enthusiastic team of Shop Well with You volunteer personal shoppers.  So what's my biggest challenge right now? It's definitely spreading the word about this program to the women who can benefit from this service.  If you or anyone you know would be interesting in participating in Shop Well with You's program, please contact us!

To become a client, participate as a volunteer, or request additional information, visit www.shopwellwithyou.org, call (212) 966-2500 x339 or email info@shopwellwithyou.org.

Created: 11/23/2002  -  Emily Spivack

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