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K & J's Complete Woman Mastectomy & Wig Boutique Helps Woman Look and Feel Good
By Lois Thomson

Imagine having just gone through the trauma of a mastectomy, then having to go to a store that provides wheelchairs, oxygen, and other durable medical equipment to get your breast form and bra. And then further imagine being taken into a back room by a gentleman where you have just two breast forms and four types of bras to choose from.

That's exactly what Kathy Garrison had to do in the 1980s following her surgery, and it was from that experience that K & J's Complete Woman Mastectomy & Wig Boutique was born.

Kathy's daughter, Kristin Garrison-Smihal, a cancer survivor herself, is also employed at K & J's. Kristin explained, "My mother was 36 at the time, so she was pretty young, and that (experience) was traumatic. I remember her saying, 'There has to be a better way for women who are going through this.' So she called the number on the box of breast forms and said, 'I don't like how I got this breast form, what can I do?' And that's how it started."

Kathy added, "Back then, the mission (of K & J) was to provide a beautiful bra and a prosthesis so women could look and feel good again." Since then, however, the boutique has grown. As Kristin commented, "We try to follow the needs of our patients, and as they come in and identify needs that aren't being met elsewhere, we've taken them on."

That includes expanding the company's compression and wig business. Women who are experiencing hair loss will find a large selection of wigs from which to choose. "The thing that's helpful for our patients is that it's private, we have separate rooms in both of our stores (Bethel Park and Monroeville) for wig fittings. Plus, we make sure that it's personalized by scheduling each client a private appointment with one of our wig-fitting specialists."

Kristin said that K & J's Complete Woman Mastectomy & Wig Boutique being family owned and employing local people is very important to her mother. "I went to school with one of our newest employees. We had lost touch, but her mother was diagnosed with lymphoma, receiving chemotherapy, and came into my mom's shop for a wig. I got in touch with her and she's now working here. She's not family, but our families have known each other for more than 35 years. So we're expanding, but we're keeping it close-knit."

Additionally, compression garments can treat a variety of women's health conditions. Kathy herself has struggled for years with lymphedema, a side effect of her cancer treatments. K & J's staff is trained to provide women with the appropriate and correctly sized compression garments they need.

Kristin further commented on the rising number of women who had lumpectomies or breast reconstruction in the past, and because of aging and other factors, have changes in the size and shape of their breasts. "These patients are no longer seeing their oncologists or surgeons, and are out of balance and stuffing their bras because they don't know we have products covered by their insurance. We're trying to get the word out, because we want to help these women to be healthy, and to look and feel good."

For more information, call 412-835-5093 or visit www.kandjscompletewoman.com

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