Dr. Kay Knight turned a concern she repeatedly heard from her chiropractic patients into a boutique to help outfit cancer survivors.
The Bettendorf chiropractor, who specializes in sports injuries and orthopedics, was treating patients for "frozen shoulder" — stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint — and post-mastectomy pains, when she learned about the trials of shopping for post-operative bras, compression sleeves and other supplies. "I kept hearing ladies having a hard time finding products and going to Des Moines and Peoria to find them," she said.
Her solution was to start up a retail business, Forever Me. The cancer specialty boutique, owned by Knight and her husband, Dana, sells breast cancer-related bras, breast forms and prostheses, camisoles, swimwear, hats and scarves. In addition, it offers treatment supplies for those with lymphedema, such as sleeves and gloves, as well as a wide range of compression garments from stockings to athletic socks.
In her research and conversations with clinic patients, the DeWitt, Iowa, woman also discovered the need to help fit women for a new bra after surgery. "Maybe you've had a reconstruction, or maybe your bra just doesn't fit, said Knight, who is a certified mastectomy fitter. "We tried to start doing what we thought we'd want someone to do for us."
She said woman who have not had cancer also are walking in the door. "We'll fit other women, too ..." she said.
Located at 3565 Utica Ridge Road Suite E, Bettendorf, Forever Me is in a storefront just below her Absolute Balance Chiropractic clinic. She shares the office with other female providers, including Back2Action Physical Therapy and ABC Lymphedema Clinic.
"I wanted to order stuff we wanted to wear," she said of the stylish bras, camisoles and swimwear that she keeps in stock in the quaint boutique.
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With an assortment of prints, colors, styles and sizes of bras available, she said "I wanted stuff that is pretty and doesn't have to look like your grandma's bras."
Knight saw a need for offering bras, forms and prostheses for survivors who have had a mastectomy, lumpectomy or reconstruction surgery. Through the store's connection with Trulife Radiant Impressions, Forever Me offers the non-surgical breast and nipple reconstruction option.
The realistic custom prosthesis comes in 36 skin tone colors. In addition, she said Trulife offers a 3D scanning technology, which creates a detailed image of the woman's chest wall and then turns the scan into a custom prosthesis. "They are all handmade and it fits against the chest," she said.
Trulife sent staff from Des Moines to help her first few customers, but she said Forever Me will get its own scanning equipment to offer the digital technology in-house.
The store also carries skincare lotions for radiation and chemotheraphy patients.
Forever Me, which opened in October, provided Knight with her own therapy as she recovered from a serious fall off a tractor. The injury laid her up for four months, during which she did the business planning for Forever Me. After blowing out the soft tissue in her arm and breaking her elbow and shoulder in the June 25, 2016, accident on their farm, Knight underwent five surgeries.
"For the first year, I just hoped to get the word out (about the store)," she said. Instead, "it has taken on a life of its own."
Despite the boutique label, she said "We tried to keep prices at what you'd find at J.C. Penney. People hear boutique and they think expensive." She said bras range from $36 to $63 each. For many patients, insurance will cover the cost.
Knight, who has never had cancer, said many of the customers are coming into the store after their journey with cancer. But she encourages women to visit once they are diagnosed. "We'll try to have what they need."