New Saint John shop caters specifically to cancer patients

A Saint John entrepreneur is aiming to connect patients with products that can help them live more comfortably.

Cancer is 'another part of life,' says Believe Specialty Shop owner Maria Jimenez

Maria Jimenez opened Believe Specialty Shop at 199 Chesley Dr. in early December. The shop carries a wide range of products that intended specifically for people living with cancer. (Julia Wright / CBC)

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 Lindi skincare line, pictured, is designed specifically to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy, including face rashes and sore, dry hands and feet, Jimenez said. (Julia Wright / CBC)

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 fits customers who have undergone mastectomies with bras, swimwear and prostheses. In the coming months, Believe Speciality Shop will also open an in-house hair salon. (Julia Wright / CBC)

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.

The shop is located on the street level at 199 Chesley Dr., the former Acadian Lines bus station. (Julia Wright / CBC)

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."

About the Author

Julia Wright

Julia Wright is a reporter based in Saint John. She has been with the CBC since 2016.