By Graham Sweeney
Sisters by birth and best friends by choice, Susan Tanner (a nurse for more than 30 years) and Lynn Barcroft (an area orthotist for more than 30 years) shared a dream.Both served the medical community of the Shelby County area for decades and saw the need for a boutique that was dedicated to the specific needs of women diagnosed with breast cancer.Designed to be soft and feminine, Pink Ribbons opened on Nov. 1, 2011 on N. White Station in Memphis to serve the mastectomy and lymphedema community of West Tennessee. The boutique moved to its present Bartlett location at 6295 Summer Ave., Suite 105 in May of 2018.West 10 Media recently caught up with co-owner Tanner to discuss the current needs of women diagnosed with breast cancer. • Why did you start your boutique?
Lynn was an orthotist in the Orthotic and Prosthetic world for about 40 years, while I spent equal time as a registered nurse in the Memphis area. We saw the need for a breast cancer boutique that would provide and care for those women outside of the O&P facilities. There was only one such boutique in the Memphis area and the need was growing, unfortunately. • Does Pink Ribbons operate primarily from referrals or word of mouth?Both, we depend on our customer’s word of mouth but most of what we provide requires a doctor order so we rely heavily on the doctor’s, lymphedema therapist, nurse navigator’s, wound care centers.
• How has COVID-19 affected your business?Initially, we closed for five weeks even though we are classified as ‘essential.’ All of the staff worked from home and reordered for our customers when we could.A few new customer’s came in for private appointments. We opened back up with restrictions on the numbers of customers entering at one time. We have always been very sensitive to the needs of our chemo patients and have taken precautions due to their situations.Since reopening all of us are protecting our customers by wearing masks and keeping our boutique as clean as possible. COVID-19 affected us for the time we were closed but we have been blessed for the last several months.
• Can you give us an idea of what you specifically offer.
When we first opening we were limited to mastectomy garments and prostheses and compression arm sleeves. We now provide almost any type of compression medically and over the counter that could be needed. We provide the Lympha-Press pneumatic compression pump for lymphedema and venous insufficiency of the extremities and truncal area throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. We also provide wigs. Almost everything we provide can be billed to most insurance companies. And of course, we have lots of breast cancer awareness items as our ladies love to shop while they are here.• What are the majority of your clients are looking for?
The majority of our walk-in customers are here for mastectomy garments of some sort. We still have quite a bit of compression garment customers walk in. About 60 percent of our income comes from our Lympha-Press pumps enabling us to in turn continue to serve the breast cancer survivors with their needs.• What is the most rewarding part of operating Pink Ribbons?
Seeing a woman who is unsure of her femininity after breast surgery give us that smile and hug after she looks into the mirror after her fitting. Getting that phone call from that lymphedema patient who is getting results from their garment or the pump and able to be more functional. That is what we are here for, to genuinely care and help make life worth living again for those who we come in contact with. Every woman reacts different to breast cancer. Some will choose reconstruction and some will not. For those who choose reconstruction we offer:PurFit Adjustable breast enhancer by Amoena.
This prosthesis was designed to ‘bridge the gap’ during breast reconstruction, giving you your natural shape from the very beginning.
For those women who choose not to have reconstruction we offer breast forms from Amoena, TruLife, ABC, and Anita. We offer the both the standard pocket prosthesis and the self-adhering ‘contact’ prosthesis.For women who have had breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) and are left out of balance, we provide ‘balance’ prostheses that will help correct any irregularity in the shape and size of your breast.For the days and weeks immediately following breast surgery and radiation we begin our care.You can come into our boutique for a consultation before surgery. With your doctor’s permission, we will come to your hospital room the day after surgery with your post-op camisoles. These camisoles are designed to be used immediately after breast or any chest related surgery.The camisole fills the need for any easy-to-wear post-surgery garment with added performance features that provide security, a restored silhouette, comfort and drainage management.Because the drainage pouches are removable, this soft, comfortable camisole is ideal for leisure wear after surgery or during radiation treatment.For more information, call 901.417.6060.