Euphoria Spa reaches out to post-masectomy women

Posted by on Nov 10, 2011 in Featured, Print Article | 0 comments

“Do you know anybody who hasn’t been touched by breast cancer in some way?” asked Deborah Ellis, owner of Euphoria Spa and Wellness Center in Avon. It’s a rhetorical question these days, but it’s one that chased Ellis down until she did something profound.

Breast cancer touched Ellis’s life when her best friend was diagnosed with the disease, which resulted in a partial mastectomy several years ago. There had been a local boutique that offered prosthetics for post-mastectomy patients, but it closed leaving no options for women.

Already focused on providing services to promote wellness at Euphoria and just having learned how to do areola restoration, Ellis began offering services to post-mastectomy patients: breast prosthetics and the undergarments and swimwear to accommodate them and wigs and skin care to manage the sensitivities resulting from chemotherapy. She says, “One thing led to another and even though it looks diverse, it’s all something that makes people feel better.”

Feeling better comes in both physical and emotional forms at Euphoria.

Ellis recalls a woman who came in for a fitting shortly after she began doing this work. The woman told her she had seen one of Euphoria’s brochures in the oncologist’s office when she had gone in for her five-year check-up. When the woman came back for a return visit, she sat in the parking lot and cried. She was crying partly because she was going to look and feel “normal” and partly because she was so angry that she didn’t know about the options she had for all that time. Ellis says the woman’s husband commented on her changed demeanor after getting the prosthetic. “And that’s huge,” Ellis remarks.

The fact that this woman’s quality of life suffered needlessly for five years aggravates Ellis, and is the impetus for her commitment. “Wouldn’t it be nice to know about it ahead of time,” Ellis asks, “so you would have a little bit of hope a little bit sooner?”

She explains that insurance generally covers a new prosthetic every two years for each surgery site, and new bras every year. A prescription is required, however, Ellis and her staff work with the physician’s office to complete the paperwork needed by the insurance company for coverage.

“I will tell anybody who will listen,” Ellis says, adding, “In October, we are hosting an Open House. We will offer two in-service opportunities and do a show and tell for the public and professionals. We are also happy to go to (medical professionals) offices to do a presentation, or to women’s groups. There aren’t too many opportunities to go talk about this that I pass up.

“I want people to know what all their options are,” Ellis says. “Everyone deserves to be able to make an informed choice.”

Ellis’s Post-Mastectomy Boutique is only one of a handful in the area, but she is the only one in the region that can provide custom fitted prosthetics designed specifically for each woman. She says, “An off-the-shelf prosthetic may not be suitable for every woman. The chest wall may be uneven and often an (off-the-shelf) prosthetic may not be a comfortable fit. The surgery site might be very irregular. Each person has unique outcomes and needs.”

Ellis says that the No. 1 goal is to recreate natural symmetry. “It means that women can still be even and wear the clothing that they wore before the surgery in most cases.” She says many women don’t know that anyone who has had a lumpectomy or reconstructive surgery that has been altered by weight gain or loss or gravity through time can be fitted to restore the symmetry.

The environment for women at Euphoria is important to Ellis. “We just try to be as respectful and compassionate as we can,” she says. “We stick with the part that we can do something about. We make it be a safe place here and just try to be supportive. Do the part that we can do.”

This is more than just business for Ellis. “I think everybody has to do something for a living,” Ellis says. “I do see this as a growing part of the business and it is certainly more deeply rewarding. I like to feel I am doing something that has meaning; that has a ripple effect down the road or in people’s lives and something that I can feel good about doing at the end of the day. It’s a bigger deal – as far as touching people’s lives. I’m more important in a deeper way in a time when they are really vulnerable. It’s an honor.”

Euphoria Post-Mastectomy Boutique is located inside Euphoria Spa & Wellness Center at 4905 E. Main St., Avon. For more information, go to or call(317) 718-0800.

By Elaine Whitesides

Printed in the Hendricks County ICON, Oct. 2011



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