On a recent afternoon, an elderly woman wandered into the Roper St. Francis Healing Boutique, seemingly in a daze. She was searching for a gift for her husband who was with his doctor upstairs in the Roper St. Francis Cancer Center.
“They said it’s Stage 4,” she said to Mary Ann Ward, the Boutique’s lead customer service coordinator. “I don’t know what Stage 4 means. It’s all new to me.”
The woman made her purchase, a knick-knack featuring a green ribbon signifying liver cancer, and exited the store.
It’s not uncommon for Healing Boutique staff to be the first people newly- diagnosed patients encounter, Ward said as she watched the woman cross the Cancer Center lobby.
“We do a lot of listening.”
For Roper St. Francis Cancer patients, many of whom manage weak immune systems, the convenience of the Healing Boutique is welcome. During the holidays, the Boutique becomes a retail home of sorts for patients who can’t risk going out in public. The store offers multiple items and services for patients, survivors and those with loved ones battling cancer.
“There aren’t many people who don’t know someone with cancer or who haven’t been affected by it in some way,” said Diane Milligan, an RSF volunteer whose sister is a patient at the Cancer Center. “That’s why the books on coping, or some of the inspirational things they offer, are so valuable.”
The Boutique also offers pragmatic gifts for chemotherapy patients, such as specialized skin creams, cozy wraps with pockets and hot tea for long afternoons spent in infusion chairs.
No other store in the Lowcoutry features as large of a retail selection, post-mastectomy fittings and wig and hair replacement in a single setting. Among its offerings, the Boutique features:
- A certified post-mastectomy fitter who can help find the right fit in items such as breast forms, bras and lymphoma therapy products.
- A licensed cosmetologist to help with hair replacement needs and custom wig fitting. The store carries a full line of synthetic and human hair wigs.
- Hard-to-find cancer comfort products such as radiation creams, non-metallic deodorants, wound gels and rinses.
- Cancer support materials such as pins, car magnets and rubber bracelets.
- Inspiring and educational books on coping with cancer.
“When you get a cancer diagnosis, everything changes,” Milligan said. “The Boutique helps.”
Roper St. Francis Healing Boutique is located at the Roper St. Francis Cancer Center on the campus of Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital. Visit the Healing Boutique website for more information on products, services, and hours of operation.
By Daniel Brock, Roper St. Francis Corporate Communications