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Sign of hope: Appearances count

Conquest - Fall 2013

Specialty shop caters to cancer patients

By Gail Goodwin

Studies show that feeling good about yourself goes a long way toward keeping a positive attitude during cancer treatment. In turn, a positive attitude often leads to a more positive experience throughout a cancer journey.

Part of staying upbeat is having certain needs met, a fact that Volunteer Services at MD Anderson understood when they opened Appearances in the Lowry and Peggy Mays Clinic. Unique in Houston, the hospital-based specialty shop markets to the distinctive needs of cancer patients.

Taking measurements

Breast cancer patients can take advantage of the expertise of the certified mastectomy fitter, Maritza Valero, who manages Appearances. Valero began working in the shop as a volunteer and soon found that her passion is fitting patients after breast surgery and making sure they’re happy.

Maritza Valero
Photo: Wyatt McSpadden

Breast prostheses, or breast forms, are used to replace a breast removed during a surgical procedure. The devices offer optimum outcome for a balanced appearance and are available in different shapes and sizes to accommodate various body types, breast shapes, skin tones and surgeries.

Kobra Karbalai
Photo: Wyatt McSpadden

Valero, who’s certified through the American Board for Certifications in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics, works with Kobra Karbalai, another mastectomy fitter. Together, they fit an average of 100 patients each month.

Lee Madray, who has clocked more than 1,000 hours in her eight years as a volunteer, stands in front of shelves filled with products designed for cancer patients — from special toothpaste and toothbrushes, creams and lotions, lip balm, hypoallergenic deodorant, sunscreen and shampoos.

Lee Madray
Photo: Wyatt McSpadden

For the cancer patients who lose their hair during chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments, there are an array of colorful scarves, hats and turbans.

Other items in the shop include canes, leisure and swimwear, CVC covers and cancer care awareness products, books, cookbooks and journals, as well as inspirational items.



Photo: Wyatt McSpadden

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center