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Fitting Montana with Compassion

by Hannah Stiff | Apr 9, 2019 3:08:57 PM

One Woman's Fight to Help Cancer Patients Find the Products They Need

There are three choices in life. Give up, give in, or give
it all you’ve got. That is the motto written on the wall at Mickey Kunnary’s
Montana boutique. It’s a motto she lives by each day. A cancer survivor, Mickey
turned her struggle into action by opening the Survivor’s Boutique, a store in
Montana’s Capital City offering cancer care products.

When Mickey was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago,
she had nowhere to go for the accessories she needed to cope with rounds of chemotherapy.

“Obviously when you go through chemotherapy you lose your
hair,” Mickey says. “I’m not a real vain person in terms of my hair, except I
didn’t go totally bald, I had hair here and there. I looked like a minion. I
wasn’t anxious to go out in public looking like a minion.”

As she shopped online, Mickey realized that other cancer
patients must be facing the same reality.

“If I struggled getting the things I need in Helena, women
in Browning and women in Harlem and women in Fort Peck and women all over the
state are having a hard time getting things they need,” Mickey says. “My
ultimate goal is to be a mobile mastectomy fitter and be able to go to these
places, have clinics set up to do fittings for ladies, figure out what they
need, get the stuff ordered and bring it back up and get them taken care of.”

While she said she received good care at the local hospital,
there was no one to teach her the, “everyday tricks, tips and tools,” to make
coping with cancer and chemotherapy easier.

“As an Indian woman, I’m pretty ingenious when I have to
be,” Mickey explains. “I can figure it out on my own, that’s the way I was
raised. But I thought to myself ‘Why should everyone have to do that?’ ”

After a job change, she talked to her husband and said it
was time to realize her dream of helping cancer patients find the clothes and
supplies they need. So, two years ago on Valentine’s Day, Mickey opened her
boutique. She received a lot of help and advice from friends and a small
business loan to get started.

The Montana Small Business Development Corporation helped
Mickey create a business plan and from there she was off and running. A year
ago, Mickey decided to apply for BBB Accreditation to continue adding trust to her
business’ brand.

In addition to offering mastectomy supplies to breast cancer
survivors, Mickey carries wigs, hats, headcovers, skin care products, clothing
and gifts for survivors, like jewelry and greeting cards. She is a certified
mastectomy fitter, which means she can measure women for protheses and help
them find garments to fit them after surgery. Twice a month, a survivor’s group
meets at the boutique.

Today, Mickey is in remission. But with her boutique as
evidence, she’s not forgetting all the other fighters battling cancer every
day. 

“For me it’s about taking care of those that need to be
taken care of, serving the underserved and taking care of my elders. That’s my
goal,” Mickey says.

Visit Survivors Boutique on BBB.org here.

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