Supporting Cancer Survivors

Terri Hadley and daughter Kim Pfeil at Pink Ribbon Boutique.

  Nothing can prepare you for the fear and uncertainty that comes with being told you have cancer. One moment, your life is as it always was. The next, it feels like it will never be the same again. It’s understandable how someone faced with such a diagnosis could get lost in that initial sense of uncertainty. Still, if someone can find their footing, they can begin the healing process. And, if they are lucky, they can also help others heal, too.
   

   Such was the case for breast cancer survivor Terri Hadley, who began her own healing journey after her diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy. When she returned to work as the district director of a company overseeing the operations of 30 hair salons, she realized that the demanding nature of the job, combined with the adjustment to her new medication, was proving to be more difficult than she anticipated. She needed a change. One Sunday morning, she received an answer to her prayer.
   

   “I was reading the newspaper and I saw a tiny two-inch ad that said, ‘mastectomy boutique for sale.’ And I thought, ‘that sounds like something I would be interested in,’” Hadley says.

   After purchasing the business, her original company was born: Symmetry Creations, providing breast cancer survivors with post-surgery attire and supplies. The company’s first location was across the street from the Frederick, Md., hospital. Hadley’s services were then contracted by the Claudia Mayer Center in Columbia, Md., and the Westminster Women’s Place. Her business further expanded to two physical locations in Hagerstown, Md., and West Virginia, before Hadley sold the company when her family moved to Delaware. Unfortunately, the disease that had altered Hadley’s life was going to turn it upside
down again. 
   

   This time, it wasn’t Hadley, but her niece who was affected by cancer, and Hadley jumped back into action, contacting some of her former vendors to buy supplies to aid her niece in her fight. It became clear that helping people going through the same process she had endured was a passion for Hadley, and her niece finally asked her, “Why aren’t you still doing this for a living?” Unfortunately, Hadley’s niece succumbed to the disease before she could see her aunt return to the work she loved.      
   

   As fate would have it, it was on the way home from the funeral that Hadley saw a For Rent sign in the window of what is now the Pink Ribbon Boutique in Smyrna. With the help of her daughter and CEO Kim Pfeil, Hadley supplies their clients with mastectomy bras, prostheses, wigs for those receiving chemotherapy and more. Compression garments are one of their most essential products —  they are used to help with the swelling that can occur from a condition known as lymphedema.
   

   “Sometimes after lymph nodes are removed after surgery, you might get some swelling, so you have to use the compression garments,” Pfeil says. “We provide custom garments for our clients.”
   

   The store is currently contracted with the Tunnell Cancer Center in Rehoboth Beach and the South Coastal Cancer Center in Frankford. According to Hadley, Pink Ribbon Boutique is the only store in the state that provides custom-fit compression designs.

   “I do it because I am a survivor,” Hadley says. "There was nothing like this for me when I had my cancer. And there’s very few of these kinds of stores left.”
Pink Ribbon client Beverly Enchill says it is Hadley’s survivor status that qualifies her to provide incredible service. 
   

   “It’s the fact that she is a cancer survivor, too. She understands where we’re coming from when we come in here. She understands completely,” Enchill says. “I am so happy that a store like this exists. From head to toe, they provide items to help the journey be more palatable.”

   It’s Hadley’s awareness of her clients’ experiences and unparalleled knowledge of her inventory that client Ruby Blair cites as the key to Pink
Ribbon’s success.
   

   “She’s walked the road, you know,” Blair says. “When you walk that journey, you’re able to be an encouragement. You have compassion, you have understanding. And you know she has it. Kim does, too.”
 

   As the CEO of Pink Ribbon Boutique, Pfeil plans to continue that tradition of compassion and understanding.
   

   “I would say my goals for the future include expansion, especially in Frankford,” Pfeil says. “I also just want to focus on continuing to keep my customers happy.”
   

   If you ask Hadley, client happiness and satisfaction is the only business metric that matters. “The biggest thrill to me has always been if the client comes in and they look sad, but they hug you and smile when they leave,” Hadley says. “You can’t measure success here in dollars. That’s not why we’re here.”