Decolletage Perfect Fit Boutique celebrates first year of business


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The journey of recovery from numerous surgical and pharmaceutical treatments for breast cancer is a difficult one for women worldwide, and signs of hardship often remain.

One local woman, working in her Coralville boutique, has spent the past year working to help women return to a feeling of normalcy.

For Cheryl Schlote, a certified mastectomy fitter, helping women feel confident again has become her passion. She is the manager of Décolletage Perfect Fit Boutique, a fitting store for post-surgical garments, breast forms, bras, and apparel for comfort during breast-cancer treatment and recovery.

“I’m glad to be here to help them through their journey,” she said. “We want her to be that same confident person that she was before this ever happened.”

Schlote’s first patient made her realize how important this is for women with breast cancer. 

“We got a bra that fit her, and we got a breast form that made her look exactly like her other side,” she said. “She looked in that mirror and her shoulders went back, her head came up, and a smile came on her face, and her eyes got bright, and I thought, you know what, I just did something really, really good for that woman. And I knew right then — that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Since opening on Oct. 15, 2012, Schlote said, the store has served approximately 125 clients and has had a steady increase in business, with clients from all around eastern Iowa.   

While other stores similar to Décolletage can be found around the state and eastern Iowa, Schlote said, the atmosphere at Décolletage sets itself apart from other fitters by being warm and welcoming. 

Ana Tovar, a mastectomy fitter at Décolletage who previously worked on the oncology floor at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, has seen how much these women have gone through.

“It’s a bittersweet kind of emotion,” Tovar said. “On a business standpoint, it’s good that we’re busy, but on a medical standpoint and what these women are going through, it’s very sad that we have such a high demand for this business.”

In 2010 the American Society of Plastic Surgeons performed more than 93,000 breast-reconstruction procedures. Reconstruction often follows a mastectomy or lumpectomy, and Décolletage serves those who have had surgery with and without reconstruction.

While boosting morale of patients is a key aspect of Décolletage, the garments are also a necessity from a physical standpoint as well.

“If you remove part of your body that ways a pound or however much one breast or both could weigh … our back kind of starts swaying because we have nothing to balance us out,” Schlote said.

With a prescription, insurance often covers some or all of the cost of the forms, shapers, and bras. For patients who do not have insurance, or cannot afford the co-pay amount, Schlote created a fund from part of the shop’s jewelry sales to help those patients.

Right above Décolletage is Skin Deep Salon & Spa, a full-service salon with specific treatments and training for cancer patients.

Tracy Lacina, the owner of the salon and Certified Clinical Oncology Esthetics, said having Décolletage so close to has created one-stop shopping for clients.

Lacina said skin treatments during chemotherapy could be critical because of the immense harm that the chemicals in the treatment can have on patient’s skin.  

The overall confidence of patients following treatment was also central to Lacina’s treatments.

“If you look good, you’re going to feel better,” she said. “If you get up and you see your skin is covered in a rash, where do I go from here? There is a place to go — it’s here. Nobody wants to look sick, and we can help you.”

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