Saundra Shapiro opened Compassionate Beauty in 2005
Photograph by Bookstrucker
Saundra Shapiro opened Compassionate Beauty in 2005 after helping her best friend through cervical cancer treatment. She remembers vividly how inconvenient and overwhelming it was for her friend to find basic cancer and chemotherapy treatment- related products in a large department store let alone products that helped her retain her dignity and sense of self. Shapiro lost her friend to the disease, but her mission lives on. Shapiro wants women to be able to find all their treatment-related products and services in one respectful and compassionate place. “We want to be everything that a woman needs,” she says.
Intimate and spa-like, this medical boutique in southwest Calgary has a big pink couch, appealing product displays and private rooms. The shop sells therapeutic bath and beauty products aimed at women in chemotherapy, including the oncology-specific Lindi Skin line. There’s a line of soft bamboo Hopecaps head scarves, Hats For You baseball caps with hair extensions, and colourful Juzo brand lymphedema compression sleeves.
About 70 per cent of Shapiro’s clients are dealing with breast cancer (other clients have different cancers or conditions causing hair loss, like alopecia), and she stocks the shop accordingly. There is an extensive mastectomy bra selection and breast forms from Amoena, as well as swimwear, sleepwear and tops. It also carries Coobie, made-in-Canada Trulife, and Anita, a speciality German brand.
Toward the back of the shop is a series of private rooms with specific functions. One is for fitting clients with comfortable post-surgical camisoles equipped with special pockets for drains. Another room is for bra and breast-form fittings, and another is a salon-like space where women can have custom wig consultations, head shaves and ongoing wig maintenance. In a spa room, clients receive aesthetic treatments including manicures and dry pedicures, waxing and microblading. There’s even a room used for compression fittings as well as oncology massage.
Shapiro says one of the most important services Compassionate Beauty provides is a sense of team spirit and normalcy during a very tough journey. “I want to give [my clients] all the pretty things. I think that cancer is hard enough,” Shapiro says. “If we can keep them feeling normal and not like they have to give up a whole other part of themselves, then life will be a little bit easier.”