On average, 65 Canadian women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day. But more and more women are surviving the disease.
For Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to tell you about a very special place in Calgary where these survivors can go to feel beautiful, supported and comforted. It’s an oncology spa and boutique called Compassionate Beauty.
Founder Saundra Shapiro says they meet clients where they are on their cancer journey. So if they’re going in for surgery, they help clients with what they might want to wear in the hospital, after surgery they have breast forms, if they’re having chemotherapy they have a wide range of wigs, wiglets, hats and caps and once they’re on the road to recovery they have activewear and swimsuits so clients can start exercising again in clothes they feel comfortable in.
Compassionate Beauty is also a spa. And they understand their clients are immune compromised. So they offer dry pedicures and manicures. Their massage therapists specialize in oncology massage and lymphatic drainage that helps reduce swelling after surgery.
They also offer hair styling and eyebrow tatooing.
I spoke with Gwyn Amat a breast cancer survivor who still goes to Compassionate Beauty regularly. She says she went in with hair down her back, and left after a ‘loving head shave’ with several wigs and hats. She said, “I left skipping and and dancing,” that the experience “turned out to be a celebration.”
Now, there is a cost involved to all of this. But the government does have several programs that help cover certain costs, for breast forms for example. Third party insurance will also cover things like massage. And Gwyn recommends asking for gift certificates for Compassionate Beauty when people want to help.
For more information visit the Compassionate Beauty website.
Saundra Shapiro’s business cuts a lot of hair. Compassionate Beauty, a Calgary center for women undergoing cancer treatment, treats more than 1,000 patients a year with special spa treatments, breast prostheses and a head shave for women dealing with chemotherapy. Shapiro says the head shaves are free and describes them as “the most emotional service we offer.”
Two years ago, Shapiro did her most memorable head shave. “I had to do it for my mother,” she says. “My knees buckled a whole bunch.” Shapiro’s mother eventually recovered from the lymphoma that necessitated the cut.
Shapiro makes her living from — and pours her heart into — Compassionate Beauty, which also offers an extensive selection of wigs, cancer treatment-safe manicures and cosmetic tattooing to help with missing eyebrows. The most popular services deal with breast cancer. “I hope to give people more control over the side effects of the disease,” she says. “I want them to pick up their kids at school and not have them feel uncomfortable. I want them to go to the restaurant and have the waiter only care about how they like their supper cooked.”