By Lauren Linhard The Evening Sun, Hanover, Pa.
Among the many personal anxieties that come with breast cancer surgery is the fear of never again looking normal in clothes or a swimsuit, breast cancer survivor Diana Klunk said.
Whether patients have one or both breasts removed, it feels like the cancer is on display whenever you leave the house, Klunk said. Worst of all, she said, regular shirts can make a woman feel ugly and self-conscious when they are already going through so much.
She opened Life Changes Boutique in Hanover six years ago to remind women going through cancer treatment that looking pretty and feeling confident is still possible.
Her shop specializes in swimsuits, clothing, dresses and underwear that utilize breast prosthetics.
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006," the lifelong Hanover resident said. "When I went looking for stores that specialized in clothes for women who had a mastectomy, I couldn't find anything, even though now I know there is so much out there."
Klunk has dedicated her past six years in businesses to creating not only a clothing boutique, but a sisterhood of support and guidance.
The most rewarding moments at Life Changes Boutique, said wig stylist Ashlee Lawrence, is watching women make immediate connections when they meet for the first time in the store.
There have been times when a customer will see another woman getting her head shaved in the wig room, and she'll walk in and hold her hand until it's over, Lawrence said. Sometimes these women have never met before, she added.
"Women open up to each other here," Lawrence said. "They see another women going through the same thing and they want to help." Even before Stacy Hobbs, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, bought anything from the boutique, she met with Klunk and they talked for hours.
There's always someone to listen at Life Changes, Hobbs said, and sometimes that's all someone needs.
Over the past two years, Hobbs has gone through treatment for breast cancer, lung cancer and recently started treatment for brain cancer. The process would be a lot harder, she said, if it weren't for the products available at Klunk's store.
"She has everything you could possibly need and so much more for the treatment process, like queasy drops for your stomach and cool rolls for the temperature changes," Hobbs said. "Having somewhere to come where you can get help and find a friend is an immeasurable comfort."