Lisa Lurie’s breast cancer in 2007 left her bald and bloated from steroids, and without breasts or ovaries. While her medical team had removed her cancer, she didn’t know how to remove the body and self-esteem issues left in its place.
“It really impacts you,” Lurie says. “I used to say that I was a cancer-created Humpty Dumpty. That’s how I felt, that I didn’t know how to put myself back together again.”
Aided by friend Ellen Weiss Kander — one of the only people Lurie says saw how much she struggled — Lurie set out to find products that would help her improve her self-image.
“She [Weiss Kander] was just such a positive force,” Lurie says. “She said, ‘C’mon, there’s got to be things to make you look and feel better.’”
Lurie searched the internet for a surgical recovery shirt made by a survivor of cancer, while Weiss Kander was looking in stores.
“I said, ‘I needed this six months ago and couldn’t find it,’” Lurie says. “And that was the spark of the idea. I called Ellen and said, ‘We could do this for people.’”
Cancer Be Glammed was founded by the couple in 2009. It educates and empowers women and helps them recover from cancer with dignity, self-esteem, and personal style.
Catering to women just diagnosed with cancer to those in recovery, Cancer Be Glammed’s WebsiteThere is a list of resources where visitors can find information about each form of cancer. A blog contains personal stories and advice.
The company has launched the Life & Style Recovery Boutique online marketplace, which allows women to purchase a variety if products to help them recover from cancer.
Lurie says the boutique was the result of a survey Cancer Be Glammed did with Wrapped in Love to learn more about the lifestyle needs of women living with cancer. 82% of the 876 women who answered the survey said that support for their recovery was crucial.
“They told us what their top products were, the type of information they needed and wanted and where they wanted to get it,” Lurie says.
The Cancer Be Glammed Style Recovery Boutique is now a partner with 15 cancer survivors-created businesses. It serves as a hub for products that range in style from fashionable clothing with chemotherapy ports to stylish mastectomy bras to cozy blankets and feel-good socks.
“We vetted all of them. We have relationships with all of these companies,” Lurie says. “We didn’t just want to be a reseller, we want to partner with them to improve the overall experience for women, and they’re very dedicated to that as well.”
Life & Style Recovery Boutique has photos of cancer survivors modeling bright clothes. It looks less like a fashion statement and more like a lifestyle boutique. fashionStatement
“We [Lurie and Weiss Kander] used to always say we believe that looking better on the outside helps you feel better on the inside,” Lurie says.
Lurie and Weiss Kander were both raised in Squirrel hill. They met at Allderdice High School. They reconnected many years later, when their daughters attended kindergarten together.
Weiss Kander is not a survivor of cancer, but she was aware of the damage chemotherapy can cause to the body after receiving it while being treated for a rare blood condition.
In addition to a need for the company — more than 8 million women living in the United States are either cancer survivors or undergoing treatment — the two thought about the message it would send to their children.
“It also was important to show our children, particularly our daughters, that you can go through terrible things, dust yourself off, and get on with your life,” Lurie says.
Then, a terrible thing happened.
Weiss Kander was diagnosed in liver cancer two years after starting Cancer Be Glammed. She suffered from the disease for around a year before succumbing to it in the summer of 2012.
It was devastating,” Lurie says. “Absolutely, flat out devastating…I just couldn’t function.”
Lurie channeled her grief into Cancer Be Glammed, which created the cancer. fashionRecovery guide You can purchase them on the website.
“I decided I had to continue [Cancer Be Glammed] as difficult as it was, because I just felt like it was important to continue what we started together but even more so there was a great need for it,”She says.
Lurie states that business at the Life & Style Recovery Boutique was a success. The website, which was visited by about 1,500 people per month when it first started in 2015, now receives over 10,000 hits.
Lurie believes that Weiss Kander would have been thrilled if she had survived cancer.
There’s another thing.
“She was the glam in Cancer Be Glammed. She was a beautiful person inside and out, and I’m like a pajama-wearing, sweat pants-wearing, T-shirt kind of girl,” Lurie says. “I think she’d say I’ve stepped up my act, and I think she’d say ‘It’s good to see you having hair and makeup.’”