Regaining Form
Local firms help breast cancer survivors on the road to recovery
by Sharon A. Shaw


Despite the high number of people who have had breast cancer touch their lives in some intimate way, finding qualified resources to assist survivors on the road to recovery can still be a challenge.


Theresa Plum of Jude Plum Co. in Bryn Mawr ( knows how to address the concerns of clients who are facing hair loss from chemotherapy or radiation. Her brother Jude seeks to create a natural look with each wig, having studied under wig designers in France and Belgium. In addition to a full menu of salon services, Jude Plum offers private consultations, and wig fitting and styling. “Doctors answer medical questions, but most only tell patients that they will lose their hair,” she says. “We can tell them what to expect when it begins shedding, when it will begin to grow back and how long it will take to regain length.


“Mostly,” she continues, “women want to look like themselves. They just want to be able to go into work and not answer questions about their health. They want to carry on with their lives, get through this and get back to normal.” She recommends that clients bring a friend for support during their first visit to the salon, while she and the staff answer questions, discuss options and assure women that, yes, they can continue to look and feel like themselves during treatment.


The salon carries more than 300 human- and synthetic-hair wigs and pieces, restoring creams, antibacterial soaps and hair-care products. Unlike so many aspects of treatment, Theresa says, “The patients have complete control over [the timing of] this decision,” which can be empowering. “They have taken another step forward, the loss is behind them and they see how gorgeous they will look.” After the treatment, Jude Plum’s stylists will work with a woman’s own hair as it grows back until it reaches the desired length. Then it is Theresa’s goal to transition them back to their own stylist again so that they can resume their regular routines.


Wendy Carter, clinical director of Symmetry Post Mastectomy Solutions ( also helps restore confidence to her patients after breast cancer treatments. After 13 years as an OB/GYN, where she often had to deliver the news that a mammogram had come back abnormal, Carter began fitting orthotics and prosthetics and witnessed how mastectomy prostheses had been left behind by new technologies.  She pioneered the use of a 4-D scanning technology used in the fabrication of custom-fit orthotics and prosthetics to create custom breast prostheses for mastectomy patients.


The scan, which is completed in one of Symmetry’s five local offices, takes only two to three minutes and results in a closer match to the remaining tissue with a more intimate fit to the body, allowing for an active lifestyle again. “It breaks my heart to see women with sub-standard prosthetics come in,” she says. “Their shoulders are bent, their heads are down.” When they feel incomplete, these women lose the desire to get back out and live life. Carter says it is “the coolest thing” to be able to help these women feel complete again. “They start as patients, but all end as friends.”