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There’ll Be Some Changes Made

Volunteer Voice - Fall 2007

With cancer comes change — change in lifestyle, change in feelings and change in appearances. For women especially, changes in appearance can have a deep impact on their emotional well-being.

To help accommodate these changes, Volunteer Services created a specialty shop — Appearances.

The shop is a special place at M. D. Anderson where patients can receive support, guidance and products to enhance their appearance during and after their treatment. When you’re undergoing cancer treatment, feeling good about how you look and keeping your spirits high go a long way in contributing to a positive experience during your care.

Maritza Valero, left, says “hats off” to her Appearances volunteer Lee Madray. Madray, who has walked in the shoes of those who visit the shop, enjoys the hope she can offer.

Appearances is a unique resource for helping patients keep a positive self-image. Staffed by certified prosthesis fitters and trained volunteers, the shop is stocked with special items to complement the cancer patient’s lifestyle. In addition to breast prosthetics, products especially geared to cancer patients — from clothing and headgear to cosmetic items and accessories, fill the shelves. If a doctor recommends it, chances are that the shop will carry it — and if not, the product can often be ordered.

M. D. Anderson volunteers are at the heart of the shop’s operation. Volunteers in Appearances are often breast cancer survivors because breast prosthetics are a big part of the shop’s business. They are able to share their experiences with patients.

Appearances volunteers may talk to breast cancer patients before their surgery and go over their experiences with prosthesis and reconstruction. Appearances staff help patients choose hair pieces, head coverings, skin products and other specialty items for cancer patients.

“It’s our job to help patients feel pretty again,” says volunteer Lee Madray. “Each time I come here, I pray that I am able to help someone in some little way.”

For Madray, who is a breast cancer survivor, volunteering was a way for her to give others hope.

“One day, I saw a father and son come in,” says Madray. “I felt like the son seeing me, a breast cancer survivor, would give him hope that his mother would come through her cancer, too.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center