October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Let’s Talk About That Word…AWARENESS

Posted on in Diversify, Product and Service Solutions

By Mary Avenanti, VGM OTS Program Director

The following article appears here in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in honor of the community of women’s health providers who bring life-changing products and compassionate service to the courageous women who find themselves navigating the breast cancer journey.

Diane owns a women’s boutique on Long Island, New York. She shares what she identifies as her most frustrating challenge.

“Women come to us after their surgery and what we hear from them is, ‘Oh, wow, I wish I had known about that camisole. I didn’t know there were more discreet or more effective and more comfortable compression vests, post-surgical camis or bras,’ or ‘I had no idea a lighter-weight "first" prosthesis was even an option,' etcetera.”

There is Opportunity Here

The experience Diane shares is one of the most common frustrations cited by breast care consultants and certified mastectomy fitters. An opportunity exists in this common communication gap between the time a woman is diagnosed and her subsequent surgery. What if shop owners had a way to build awareness and educate in ways that could direct a woman to their shop before a scheduled breast surgery?

Promotional materials from your company in the hands of hospitals, referral sources, etc. get women into your shop before their surgery in time to weigh their options and be prepared immediately following surgery to ward off complications. It’s beneficial for women to understand breast prostheses have come a long way, are lighter, look and feel more like the real thing, and have a comfortable, contoured fit. It’s also important to know there are lymphedema options available. Lymphedema affects more than 65 percent of breast cancer patients. Your shop can answer all their questions ahead of time and can offer resources and support groups and services throughout the community.

Essentially Women, a newer women’s health division of VGM, offers to its members valuable resources including educational print marketing developed with the main purpose of helping direct women to you for products and information before their surgeries.

A Professional Way to Educate Consumers

Educated consumers are an asset to your business. The Shades of Pink guide to navigating options after breast surgery is an effective marketing tool that helps you do just that— in a professional way, that lets the community you serve know you genuinely care about them and their journey. There are several ways to use this innovative guide to enhance your visibility and grow your business:

  1. Leave the guides in physicians’ offices, waiting rooms, and patient education areas.

    While leaving the guides on a table in a waiting room may be quicker and more convenient, the extra effort it takes to personally visit with the receptionist, nurse, or health care practitioner may be well worth your time. In emphasizing your willingness to support their patients by leaving copies of Shades of Pink with them to distribute as needed, you significantly increase the probability of their breast cancer patients coming to you BEFORE their surgery and being able to offer continued support and products throughout their journey.

  2.  Set up an appointment with discharge planners and/or case workers at your local hospitals, and offer a short presentation about the importance of getting clients in to see you as early in the process as possible.
    Walk them through some of the talking points in the guide (e.g., questions and checklists, post-surgery options, fitting, etc.), and then leave them with a healthy supply to share with patients and their families.

  3. Use the book as a discussion starter when clients come to your boutique.
    An attractive holder that displays the book in an upright position brings needed attention to the piece. Use the guide to help with compassionate discussions with your clients and their support person(s). The book is written in a manner that helps relieve associated anxiety and concern.

  4. Leave the book with any agency, center, or support group that has contact with women traveling the breast cancer journey.
    Again, if possible, a personal visit and short presentation of what you and your business have to offer will leave a lasting impression. Group leaders, counselors, even administrative workers will be more likely to refer women to the guide and to your business when they are aware of how much you care and the products and services you offer.

“We LOVE the Shades of Pink guide for our business at Goshen Home Medical. Not only is it a great advertising tool, but it is a wonderful navigational guide for breast cancer patients. It helps them to realize they are not alone, what options are available, and even includes resources such as checklists, fitting guide, and home medical products available. We have the book out in our showroom, our cancer center, women’s retreat center, and I bring a few to the physicians’ offices and long-term care facilities that I visit….we are so grateful to have a resource like this at our fingertips.  Marlies W., Goshen Home Health

Promote and Grow Your Business with EW and OTS

These are just some of the ways this beautiful guide can be used to enhance your business and expand your visibility in the community. EW and VGM’s Off the Shelf Marketing Program also have a Medicare Reference Guide for Breast Prostheses and Supplies and other customizable print marketing pieces to help you promote and grow your business.

Mary Avenanti manages VGM’s Off the Shelf Marketing Program. She has created more than 40 different educational print pieces to help members promote their businesses to consumers and referral sources. Contact her at 888.875.7707 or [email protected].

Nikki Jensen is vice president of VGM’s women’s health division, Essentially Women. Contact her at [email protected] to discuss the significant benefits membership in EW has to offer its members. And, visit or call 800.988.4484.


To show your support to independent HME providers affected by the recent hurricanes, request supplies or donate, visit or call 844-416-1411