Hi! My name is Carla Baudrons, I’m one of the newbies here at CRC, and one of the many things I get to do is serve folks in our boutique. The Emily Virkler Boutique is named for a former client of ours who sadly passed from brain cancer in 2017. Because of her family’s generous funding and your continued support, we’re able to provide people experiencing cancer with free items such as wigs, hats and scarves of all kinds, mastectomy products like surgical bras, breast prostheses, and mastectomy bras, and more.
I thought I would share a glimpse into the boutique with you today, so you can better understand the impact you’re helping us make in our community. For privacy, I’ve changed the names of the individuals I’m referring to, but their story is 100% true.
A little while ago, I got a phone call from a soft-spoken man named Bill, who told me that his wife Gloria had recently been told that her cancer was terminal, and that all they could do was keep it at bay for a while with treatment. He said he was calling in her place, because she wasn’t feeling well enough to reach out herself, but that she was interested in coming in for a boutique appointment to be fitted for a wig.
Bill and Gloria came in together the next day, and I could tell that Gloria was shy, and Bill was nervously concerned about her. We talked for quite a while in the parlor (which feels more like a living room), where they shared with me more details about their cancer journey so far. My heart swelled for them both, but instead of sadness or heaviness, I felt a genuine sense of empathy, gratitude, and joy–that this organization is able to bring some light into their day.
I eventually ushered them into our newly-renovated, tiny-but-mighty boutique, which exudes an atmosphere of warmth, comfort, and calm–from the gentle music playing in the background, to the subtle scent of lavender in the air, and the beautiful mural of cheerful sunflowers on the wall. Gloria sat in our fancy, professional salon chair in front of a large mirror while I set to work pampering her socks off, and Bill watched comfortably from the sidelines.
I tailor each boutique experience to the individual client’s preferences. You don’t have to try on anything at all if you don’t want to. We have catalogs that you can look through to pick out what will work best for you. I ended up ordering a wig for Gloria because we didn’t have the style she wanted in her color, and she enjoyed her experience so much that she asked me to have it shipped to our office so that she had an excuse to come back in for it!
Bill enjoyed his time too. Seeing Gloria light up throughout her appointment, and leave with her head held high and a smile on her face made him positively melt, I could almost see the worry lines relaxing on his face. As they were leaving, he turned back and gave me a meaningful smile and said, “Thank you so much.” I have to admit, I had a little cry when the door closed behind them.
When you’re losing your hair, or you’ve lost a breast or two, it can almost feel like you’re not “you” anymore. Regardless of your views on self image and self worth, it’s always jarring to lose something that’s been a part of you for your whole life. When Gloria tried on the wig that she ended up choosing, her face completely changed. She went from doubtful and listless to animated and beaming, on a dime! “That’s my hair!” she laughed, and Bill unhelpfully chimed in, “Before the gray!”
Cancer doesn’t play by the rules; it takes parts of us away that don’t grow back. Here at CRC, we understand that everyone’s cancer journey is unique, and we all have different ways of dealing with our changing bodies, but if a wig or a prosthesis helps you feel more like yourself, we will always say, “Go for it!” Call us to make an appointment at the Emily Virkler Boutique today. All our services and provisions are completely free for anyone affected by cancer. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here for you.