It's a sad truth that a market exists for Missy Hall's new Mount Airy business.
But as long as there are women with breast cancer, there will be customers for The Tender Touch Mastectomy Boutique.
In her shop at 5807 Woodville Road, Ms. Hall fits prostheses for women who have had mastectomies and lumpectomies. She also sells other items for cancer patients, including wigs, turbans and surgical bras.
"Basically I help them in any way I can," said Ms. Hall, 50. "A lot of them just want to come in and vent. And since I've been there, I know exactly what they're talking about."
Ms. Hall had a mastectomy three years ago and also has lupus, a disease of the immune system.
"I do really understand where these women are coming from, their fears and concerns," she said. "Family and friends are great, but unless you've experienced it, you don't have a clue as to what it's really like."
Ms. Hall, who previously worked as a human resources manager, decided to open her shop after the only other similar business in the area closed six months ago.
As a result, women who wanted prostheses after breast cancer surgery were faced with traveling to Baltimore or Annapolis for similar services.
Although medical supply businesses also sell prostheses, Ms. Hall said most breast cancer patients prefer the personalized service of a smaller shop geared toward women.
"They [medical supply stores] deal with all kinds of people and problems, not just mastectomies," she said. "There's a lot of women in need and not a lot of places to go."
Ms. Hall learned how to fit women for prostheses and opened her shop a month ago in the apartment connected to her house.
Her goal is to provide women with useful information in a comfortable setting.
"I've taken all the experiences I've had and I'm trying to make it better in my own shop," she said.
She hopes to draw clients from Carroll, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties. To get the word out about her shop, Ms. Hall has contacted hospitals, doctors offices and cancer support groups.
"I have high hopes that it will take off," she said.
The Tender Touch Mastectomy Boutique is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and by appointment weekends. For more information, call (301) 829-3277 or (800) 829-1080.