Tear-stricken, Westfield resident Patricia Van Kirk explained how Riverview Health’s Women of Vision Giving Club and the women’s boutique helped her regain her womanhood and supported her through her journey with breast cancer.
Van Kirk was assisted with a wig during her treatment as well as brassieres, drains and a compression sleeve, post-surgery. She underwent a double mastectomy prior to her treatment last year.
“It’s alleviated fears,” she said of the boutique. “There’s financial fears. It has, of course, helped with how I can present myself as well as the health aspect in that all those needs have been met very graciously. It has been a godsend to me, to say the very least, and comforting and familiar.”
The Women of Vision Giving Club is in its 14th year of operation. It provides grants that support programs and projects serving women and children at Riverview Health, such as the women’s boutique.
“The women’s boutique has been a recipient many years because they provide support to our cancer patients, providing them with prosthetic devices, wigs, compression garments and more,” said Megan Wiles, Riverview Health Foundation executive director.
Wiles said she is sure other hospitals have women’s boutiques but hasn’t heard of a program similar to the Women of Vision Giving Club.
Items offered by the women’s boutique, such as wigs, prosthetics and more, can be costsly for women struggling with cancer. Silicon prosthetics can reach up to $400 each. Pocketed bras for the prosthetics can be up to $60. Wigs range from $120 to $350. An arm sleeve to aid with swelling after lymph nodes removal can reach $75.
Terri McCall, manager of the women’s boutique, said because he boutique benefits from grants, it never turns anyone away.
“It’s a wonderful feeling when someone needs something like an arm sleeve when so many women who are underinsured or uninsured and can’t afford a silicon breast prosthetic or a sleeve to keep the arm from swelling or a wig,” McCall said. “It’s wonderful to be able to say ‘yes’ and provide those things for everyone that walks through the door. Women often say they feel whole again and feel like themselves again.”
McCall said when she explains her job to people, many comment on how sad it sounds, but McCall feels differently.
“Everyone always says, ‘What a sad job,’ and I say, ‘No, this is the happiest job you can imagine,’” she said. “People come in one way and get to walk out feeling and looking a little bit better.”
Through the years, the Women of Vision Giving Club has awarded an average of $25,000 per year in grants since its inception. This year, it has $35,000 to grant. Recipients will be announced at the annual Women of Vision luncheon scheduled for May 4.
If you go
The annual Women of Vision luncheon is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. May 4 at Embassy Suites and Conference Center, 13700 Conference Center Drive South. Admission is $75. Proceeds benefit the Women of Vision Giving Club.
During the luncheon, breast cancer survivor and author Kelly Corrigan will speak on strength, empowerment and overcoming life’s challenges. Registration includes lunch and a copy of Corrigan’s book.
Women of Vision Giving Club grant recipients and the recipient of the Women’s Impact Award also will be announced.
For more or to register, visit riverview.org.