Two South Yorkshire women have teamed up to launch a new business which aims to take the embarrassment out of shopping for underwear for women who have had surgery for breast cancer.
Julie Russell has joined forces with best friend Debbie Mace to launch a business called Chrysalis, which offers to visit women who need special bras, prosthetics and wigs in their own homes for fittings.
Two years ago, Julie, from Penistone, underwent 10 months of treatment for breast cancer, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.
“One of the main problems I encountered was trying to find a post-surgery bra – I ended up in a halter neck bikini top,” says Julie.
“I’m a confident person but when I went to a major high street store for a bra I found the whole experience daunting and embarrassing.
“The staff were polite and helpful, but they had little understanding of my position. I was left feeling anxious and different.
“This venture with Debbie gives me a chance to make sure other women avoid the pitfalls I faced.”
Debbie, who has alopecia, already had experience of setting up a business designed to help people with medical conditions.
She set up Doncaster-based specialist consultancy, Hair Supply, which provides wigs and hairpieces for cancer patients and alopecia sufferers after years of having to wear ill-fitting wigs from outlets which did not appreciate the problems facing people with hair loss.
Her service is approved by the NHS and women are often referred to her by GPs or specialist nurses.
Julie and Debbie have been friends for more than 30 years and reckon their new business is the first of its kind in Yorkshire.
“I know from first-hand experience how debilitating and embarrassing hair loss can be,” says Debbie.
“When Julie said she wanted to start her specialist lingerie business it made sense for us to work together.
“We can visit women in their own homes or go to support groups and we hope to be able to work with breast cancer clinics in the future.”
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