A Saint John entrepreneur is aiming to connect patients with products that can help them live more comfortably.
"The idea was to put a one-stop shop for cancer patients all under one roof," said Maria Jimenez, whose background is in hospitality and human resources.
She was inspired to open Believe Specialty Shop at 199 Chesley Dri. in Saint John after helping her mother through her breast cancer diagnosis.
"Sitting in the waiting rooms for seven months, talking to various patients, I realized that having to run around for my mom was a little crazy," she said. "We didn't know where to purchase products that would assist her through her journey. It's an emotional roller coaster."
The Chesley Drive shop carries little luxuries like satin pillowcases to reduce pulling on scalps rendered sensitive by chemotherapy. Bamboo cutlery sets help with the metallic taste many cancer patients experience while undergoing treatment.
Cloth PICC line covers prevent peripherally inserted central catheters from snagging throughout the day and while sleeping. Flavour-free mouth sprays, toothpaste and gels can help people with mouth sores maintain their oral hygiene. Anti-nausea products, books and kid's products are also for sale.
Jimenez is trained in providing professional bra, swim-wear and prosthetic fitting for clients who have undergone mastectomies. In the coming months, Believe Specialty Shop will also open an in-house hair salon serving both men and women.
"I reflected back to when my mom was diagnosed in fall 2016, preparing mentally for what we were going to do," she said. "I'm assuming that my clients are doing the same thing: trying to wrap their heads around what they need and what they're going to do."
First in the region
Believe Specialty Shop is the only retailer of its kind in Saint John. While some of her products are available elsewhere, Jimenez said, bringing everything under one roof is a new concept for the region.
After opening on Dec. 9, "nine newly-diagnosed clients walked through my door," she said.
While many of the product lines she carries are intended for cancer patients, they're not limited to that group, she said.
"This is all-natural products and clothing for everyone."
Jimenez hopes that a dedicated storefront will reduce some of the stigma associated with cancer supplies.
"[Cancer] is an unfortunate experience, but it's another part of life," she said. "I'm here to help. This is a place to shop comfortably, at your ease, and find everything that you're looking for."