OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Doctors are concerned people are not getting their yearly mammograms during the pandemic. Experts say 1 in 8 women will face breast cancer in their lifetime.
October is a month we see a lot of pink and ribbons to raise awareness for breast cancer but Charlene Kimmel doesn’t want the seriousness of the disease to get lost on people.
She opened the Battle Boutique located at 11716 W 95th St. in Overland Park to be there for women in the fight of their lives. What they get is a lot more than accessories during treatment.
“It’s pretty and pink but it’s not pretty,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel founded Battle Boutique after becoming a breast cancer survivor.
She and other volunteers, who double as cancer warriors, offer discounted wages, hats, surgical camisoles and encouragement.
“Putting a wig on just really changes how they feel about themselves” Kimmel said. “They’re not used to this, they’re not used to having no hair and then whenever they can feel hair back on their head, it’s just a good feeling.”
Kimmel knows the feeling.
In 2016, she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.
A double mastectomy, radiation and countless treatments later, she’s coming up on five years in the clear.
“I never want anyone to forget, like, it’s cancer and it’s a diagnosis and it’s life changing and sometimes you don’t live through it,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel strongly encourages everyone to be their own advocate. One way to do that is getting routine mammograms, especially if you have a history of breast cancer in your family or are over the age of 40.
“The key to fighting this disease is finding it when it’s early,” Dr. Linda Harrison said. “When we find it early it’s the most treatable and survival rates are up around 99% if we can find breast cancer in its early stages.”
Harrison, a radiologist at Diagnostic Imaging Centers, said this year, not as many people are coming in to get their yearly mammogram, likely because of the pandemic.
“Experts estimate that we could have about 5,000 more deaths over the next decade from breast cancer just simply from people missing their routine screening mammogram,” Harrison said.
Kimmel will tell you, catching cancer early is your best shot at being there for the milestones, like watching your daughter walk down the aisle on her wedding day.
“I basically cried the whole week leading up to the day and then the week after the day,” Kimmel said laughing. “I was very emotional.”
She describes it as a moment of freedom – feeling nothing but gratitude for God giving her the extra time and the ability to offer other women a safe place to look in the mirror and feel beautiful.
Kimmel is doing appointment only during this pandemic to give women going through caner the opportunity to feel secure and be the only one in the boutique with the volunteer.
If you are interested in scheduling a time to shop or donate items, call (913) 961-9795.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Diagnostic Imaging Centers call (816) 444-9989 or just walk in.
They have several other locations if the one in Liberty is not closest to you.