Drug store's boutique helps cancer patients feel beautiful again 

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Lehan Drugs staff discuss new products for the store. | SUPPLIED PHOTO

A Natural Beautiful You6 - 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4

Valley West Medical Office Building

1310 N. Main St. Sandwich, Ill. 60548

Free. Registration required.

Register online at http://bit.ly/NTsAhr

Or call 815.786.3962.

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When a woman is facing breast cancer, she has a full plate of issues to deal with: choosing a course of treatment with her doctor, re-arranging her work and family commitments and scheduling the actual medical care. And then there are challenges related to her changing appearance and a need for prosthetics.

That’s why Valley West Community Hospital’s Cancer Center is teaming up with Lehan Drugs’ Women’s Health Department and Boutique of DeKalb to offer women information on services and apparel available close to home.

“A Natural Beautiful You,” is a first-time educational program at Valley West intended to introduce patients to the process for getting fitted for breast prostheses, the specialized clothing available and what products and services are usually covered by insurance.

“Our aim is to meet the body image needs of women who are undergoing treatment, and who may not realize they don’t have to travel to Naperville or Rockford to get the specialized apparel they need,” said Deb Bemis, RN, oncology services director for the KishHealth system, which includes Kishwaukee and Valley West Community Hospitals.

“I often hear women saying, ‘I had no idea you had all of this here,’” said Terri Lehan Hettel, of Lehan Drugs, which has been family-owned for more than 60 years. The store has an extensive “Women’s Health Department and Boutique” in DeKalb, a satellite boutique inside the Cancer Center at Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb, and information and sample products at Valley West. The pharmacy also makes deliveries to Sandwich, so once fittings and selections are complete customers can pick up their orders nearby.

Hettel said the store only attends to medical needs, and has certified post-mastectomy prosthesis fitters on staff six days a week.

“Our women’s department is set up like a retail store with large, tastefully decorated, private dressing rooms. These women need to be pampered, and to know there are people here who will take care of them.”

In keeping with helping women to feel comfortable and feminine, Hettel said she was happy the store is able to offer a camisole that can be worn right after cancer surgery.

“This is specially designed to accommodate the drainage tubing and bags that are part of the post-surgical process,’’ she said. “This way women can avoid having any tape placed on the skin, which can be really uncomfortable. Patients can get these before surgery, so that they are ready to be used immediately.’’

As a provider accredited to bill Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers, Lehan staffers are trained to help patients during and after their course of treatment. Post-mastectomy products include not only breast forms and special bras and swimsuits, but also sleepwear, compression wear and skin care products.

“Some women have to undergo a hysterectomy because of their breast cancer, so their treatments may be wreaking havoc with their hormones,’’ she said. “We have sleepwear that wicks away moisture during hot flashes and that can make a big difference in sleep quality.” She said the “breathable” sleepwear is also popular among women who are traveling to hot, humid climates where they might not have air conditioning.

Women who experience edema, or swelling, after cancer surgery also may need to wear “compression” garments.

Radiation and cancer medications cause dry skin for many women, so the store also carries special lines of moisturizers to combat cracking skin and damaged nail beds.

“All of these items serve a purpose for women during and after their cancer treatment,’’ Bemis said. “Women shouldn’t have to feel that cancer has taken something away from who they are.”

Lehan Drugs and several vendors who provide the clothing and prosthetics will discuss their products, show samples and answer questions at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Valley West Medical Office Building in Sandwich.