Learning Center

Susan’s Special Needs embraces learning. As a nurse educator my goal is to help educate you on your journey with cancer in all areas of needs and interest. My personal experience during treatment was intense and frightening. My intent and mission is to guide you through your treatment, provide you with great products to meet your new needs and to become a new resource for you as your needs change and evolve. The team at Susan’s Special Needs will become your new source of support and we will guide you gently. Our approach is unique and yet ever changing as we constantly change the products to meet the challenges of new protocols and treatment management. We understand clinical trials and are professionally up-to-date with new drugs and their side effects that will influence you and your course of treatment.

We can help you organize your Treatment Support Plan for your choice of:

-Post-surgical camisole
-Wig – Human hair or synthetic
-Head covering such as a hat, turban, scarf
-Skin care products formulated for the side-effects of chemotherapy or radiation treatment
-Post –surgical garments
-Mastectomy bras and breast forms
-Mastectomy swim breast forms
-Mastectomy bathing suits

Our staff comes to us from a variety of backgrounds and experience including two cosmetologists, four certified breast form fitters, a certified medical biller, and myself, an oncology nurse clinician and breast cancer survivor. I believe the most important aspect is our personal understanding of what it is like as a patient receiving chemotherapy and addressing the changing needs in your life. Yes, we have the experience and the products but what makes the difference is that we are listening to you, this is your journey and we can help.

We help over 2,000 women annually to make choices to meet their new needs. We will be happy to discuss your treatment and post-treatment plan on our toll-free line 800.497.7005 or discuss when you visit our store.

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Before Mastectomy and Reconstruction

You have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have been scheduled for your mastectomy and possibly reconstruction. There will be many of you who will not have reconstruction, and only mastectomy. There will be many of you who at the time of mastectomy will opt for reconstruction and will have expanders placed at the time of your mastectomy getting you ready for the final reconstruction work. Keep in mind that there are more than several different kinds of reconstruction procedures. Your surgical team will prepare you with information specific to your kind of reconstruction and the items you will need post-operatively.
We do suggest a soft undergarment that looks like an undershirt with lace. This garment sports a kangaroo pouch at the tummy to carry the drain tubes that perhaps will be inserted in your surgical site and side. We carry several different versions of this post-operative garment. We encourage you to come in for us to evaluate your immediate post-operative needs. As one who has been there, this shirt is a Godsend and one which I wished was available to me. This shirt was made by another breast cancer survivor who answered the plea for immediate comfort and security of the drain tubes. Come in so that we can help you make the correct choice for you in the right size. We will help you look at a variety of wonderful first post-operative bras (I have a couple of favorites). Keep in mind that the drain tubes can be in place anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks. Remind me to talk with you about “even flow” in those tubes. Once the tubes are out we can then fit you with the first post-operative bra that can be comfortably worn until you receive the OK from your surgeon that you now can be fit for a new bra and breast form. Please come in, we can gently walk you through this process.

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Breast Forms and Bras

Susan’s Special Needs carries over 150 different bras in every size from 32AA- 52 H,I and J. We have carefully evaluated our different bras and breast forms and have made critical choices of both that provide fashion, comfort, stability, and functionality. The Susan’s Special Needs Secret is one that we will share with you when you arrive. We will work hard to find not only the perfect combination bra style and fit. We do not believe that one type bra works for everyone. We will help you choose the best bra for you matching the shape and projection desired. Your new look should be that of balance and symmetry.

We present to you, your new Mastectomy Lingerie shop, where the choices are plentiful just as you found in stores prior to your surgery. In our shop you will find beautiful classic bras, European embroidered bras, matching camisoles and panties that are gorgeous and will look stunning for those special occasions. We have a wide variety of sports bras, leisure bras and molded cup bras. We have 20 different styles in the seamless cup bra in a variety of colors, textures and fabrics from all over the world. We will assist you in finding the “perfect fit” bra in the right color. There is always something new at Susan’s Special Needs!

Breast Forms
There are many different breast forms on the market that fall into specific categories. At Susan’s Special Needs we will help you choose the specific breast form to meet your unique look and shape. You will be offered a breast form to match your skin tone and we will help you explore options to match your specific needs. We have breast forms available on the shelf and in most all cases our clients leave wearing their breast forms.
We offer you a private and personal experience that will make you happy, comfortable and beautiful. It is our passion to serve you. We will walk you through the whole process carefully and gently. Don’t forget to ask about the Susan’s Special Needs Secret!

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Specialists in Reconstruction and Lumpectomy Surgeries

At Susan’s Special Needs we specialize in lumpectomy and reconstruction fittings. Sometimes women who have had a lumpectomy and/or any kind of breast surgery may have a significant amount of breast tissue removed in spite of the breast remaining intact. There may be women whose reconstruction expanders and/or implants have to be removed and therefore, may now be eligible for a full breast form or partial forms. In both cases, women who opt for these procedures are often disappointed and embarrassed to ask how to make themselves more comfortable and evenly balanced in a bra.
We understand these very personal issues and can evaluate your current needs. Often it is just a suggestion of a good fitting bra that makes a difference. Sometimes it is using a particular shaped product to fill in the space that is missing that sits discreetly in the bra to provide symmetry again. We carry 10 different brands of products that offer us different shapes, thickness, colors and textures that can make the difference and make you feel like yourself again. Often the recommend products may be covered and partially reimbursed to you by your insurance company.
Women undergoing the expansion process during reconstruction often visit the store to look at bras and simple casual products to use while going through this process. Sometimes you need just a soft filler at the apex of the bra cup to make you look symmetrical Whatever your circumstances please call us, we are the experts that can get the job done.

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The Courageous Journey

All of us at Susan’s Special Needs recognize the journey you are on. If you have been newly diagnosed, or are in current treatment, we know that your hair is important to you and the loss of it for whatever reason is frightening, traumatic and dramatic. Many of you will have lost one or both breasts and will have difficulty with the change in self image. There will be many questions, many concerns and perhaps a lot of tears. We understand. We have actually lived this part of the journey before you and can gently guide you through this process - hold your hand, wipe your tears and embrace you with kindness, respect and support. This perspective is not only mine but the philosophy of my entire team.

Our professional approach is ours uniquely and our standards for customer service are high. You are our first priority. We are here 6 days a week to service our clients. We often stay later or come earlier to accommodate you and your families schedule. In our beautiful boutique we will offer you privacy, encourage your thoughts and ideas and guide you gently. I often say women walk in with hesitance and walk out with joy. It takes great courage to walk this path. However, you will find the energy and the strength to keep moving forward. Developing a plan of action is extremely important. We will assist you in addressing your needs and finding the right products. With knowledge and planning you will be able to cope better.

We are listed on all of the hospital referral lists in the Detroit metro area. We interface with nearly 800 doctors, nurses, therapists, and other health professionals who refer their patients to us. The doctors and nurses know us and will often call us with personal concerns regarding their patients so that together we make a comprehensive plan.

I often wondered, while undergoing treatment, how got here, why me and why now. It’s not unusual for you to be overwhelmed with all the details of your medical treatment plan. It is normal to be frightened and to be anxious over what happens next. We become so anxious that our children, spouses and other significant people in your life will not know what to do or how to do it for you. They won’t know what to say or what not to say. People will tell you tales of chemotherapy from 30 years ago and frighten you - not meaning to but just trying to give you details. I feel it is important to carve out some “me” time. Time for you to be by yourself, or on a walk to meditate, focus on the moment and to decrease all of the incoming noise and talking.

Look for meditation tapes, or call your hospital. They may have an Integrated Medicine Center where relaxation and meditation classes are offered. All of this will help you breathe and remain in control. I encourage you to keep a journal of your feelings along the way. Half way through your chemotherapy you will be able to look back and to see your emotional progress through it all. This business is my passion and my commitment to you on your journey. I wish to share the courage. I am here and I am listening………………


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Experience the Susan’s Special Needs difference. We are like no other wig shop… For fashion, chemotherapy or alopecia.

Our wigs are custom tailored for a stylish and comfortable fit. You may chose from our wonderful selection of over 2,000 human hair and synthetic wigs. Contemporary wig designers from around the globe provide a new and wonderful array of both human hair and synthetic wigs.

It’s all about choices to help you find the style and texture that is right for you and your lifestyle. We work with more than 20 different manufacturers providing human hair and synthetic wigs and headbands in all price ranges. Our wigs are made in several modes of construction that are selected in density, fiber content, style and color. We find that the lightweight wigs with a natural skin top are most popular as they resemble and look like a natural scalp. Our experienced stylists will review your treatment cycle and talk about the hair loss process to assist you in mapping out your plan of action. This plan may include a human hair or synthetic wig, sleep cap, perhaps other headwear for casual wear, and products for your scalp and skin. We will also talk about your personal choices and timing for your custom tailoring of your wig.

We will guide and assist you in making all these decisions. Our store is open 6 days a week for your convenience. Give us a call or just stop by. Appointments are recommended.

Our stylists also offer wig washing and styling services for a small fee. Please call us to discuss how we can serve you.

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Head Coverings

The phrase I hear most frequently in our store is “I have never worn a hat or scarf in my life and I really don’t want to!” or “ I’m not a hat person.”

In a few days or weeks – you will. When hair loss occurs, especially at night, your head gets cold. I was amazed how cold my head actually was. I found myself wearing some hats and scarves over and over again and periodically going out and getting something to match a new outfit. Even if you have a wig, realistically you will probably want to wear head coverings once in a while. At Susan’s Special Needs we take pride in the fit and comfort of a wig. However, wearing a wig is like wearing a pair of pantyhose. After 8 hours of wear, you want to take them off and put something on that is soft and cozy.

We all find our comfort zones in our efforts to cope with hair loss. Many of us feel comfortable wearing head coverings and some women feel great wearing nothing on their heads. Usually we find that a combination of a wig, a few turbans, and sleep caps work best for our busy daily lives.

Our recommendations:

Sleep Caps – We recommend the Slumber Cap. This cap has a little Lycra and will be sure to stay on your head during the night. It is available in great colors and can also serve as an added layer under other hats. Other choices include the SleepEase Turban, Lace Snug or the Sleep Cap.

Turbans – Turbans are wonderful for everyday wear around the house or out on the town. We have a wide variety to choose from our online store and a fabulous variety in our retail store.

Outerwear Hats – Great when you don’t want to wear a wig if your taking your dog for a walk or just running a quick errand. Among our favorites are the 100% cotton hats that work for all seasons. We do suggest at least one heavier weighted fabric hat for those really cold days. Visit the store to select from our beautiful selection.

Scarves – We specialize in lovely 100% cotton scarves that come in 100 different colors in solids and beautiful hand printed patterns. They are easily tied and can be worn alone or under other hats. We provided tying instructions.

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Alopecia is a highly unpredictable, autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. This common, but very challenging and capricious disease affects more than 4 million people in the United States. Much of the public is not familiar with alopecia so the disease can have a profound impact on one’s life and functional status at home, work or school.

In alopecia the hair follicles are attacked by a person’s own immune system resulting in the arrest of the hair growth stage. Alopecia usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth bald patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss or complete body hair loss. Alopecia occurs in males and females of all ages and races; however, onset most often begins in childhood and can be psychologically devastating. Although not life-threatening, alopecia is most certainly life-altering, and its sudden onset, recurrent episodes, and unpredictable course have a profound psychological impact on the lives of those disrupted by this disease.

We offer a private, confidential setting to discuss your needs and to help you explore your options. We will assist you in choosing the right products for you that meet your needs and budget. As a long time wig wearer, we will ensure the “perfect fit” of your wig. We will provide you with wig care products that will protect your investment.

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Trichotillomania is a condition consisting of repetitive and uncontrolled pulling of one’s body hair. Most commonly, scalp hair, eyelashes and eyebrows are pulled, although hair may be pulled from any location. In some cases, Trichotillomania is related to an increased stress level at home, school or work. While for others it may simply be a learned habit that has strengthened over time.

The primary treatment approach is habit reversal training, combined with stress management and behavioral contracting. Treatment begins with self-monitoring of hair-pulling episodes, as well as the feelings that are most likely to lead to hair pulling. Youngsters are taught a new behavior to replace or redirect, for example, squeezing a ball or tightening their fist. They are to perform this task whenever they have the urge to pull. Relaxation training and other stress management techniques are used to diminish hair pulling urges.

Over 8 million people in the United States suffer from hair pulling. The average onset of Trichotillomania is 12 to 13 years old. Most are female. Many different treatments are available and treatment outcome is good when appropriately administered. A sufferer sometimes experiences a sense of increasing tension before hair pulling and can feel a sense of relief or release of tension afterward. Sometimes people even express a degree of pleasure after the hair pulling.

At Susan’s Special Needs we will offer you a private setting where your privacy will be reassured and held confident. We will examine all of the options available to you and will help you make a good choice of wig if desired and /or head coverings.

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Skin Care

It is a known fact that chemotherapy drugs are often derivatives of metallic-based chemicals that not only affect the cancer cells but also the hands, face and feet. The skin can become red and scratchy or inflamed and tender. As a nurse practitioner I am very passionate about the condition of your skin while undergoing treatment. We have found the Lindi Skin products, made by a group of Oncologists and Dermatologists in Philadelphia, to be extremely mild and offer intense hydration. Keeping your scalp healthy and moisturized can directly affect your comfort when wearing a wig. In some instances poor skin care can lead to inflamed, infected hair follicles. We suggest a pro-active preventative approach to maintain healthy skin and scalp throughout your treatment.

Alra Shampoo
Lindi Body Wash
Lindi Body Lotion
Lindi Face Serum
Lindi Soothing Balm
Lindi Face Moisturizer
Lindi Face Wash
Lindi Face Serum

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At Susan’s Special Needs we are known for the perfect fit of lymphedema sleeves, both for travel and for daily compression use. We have perfected the system of measuring both for sleeves, gauntlets and gloves. The feedback from patients who have had us measure for these products is wonderful. With a correct fit the result is reduction of the swelling in the extremities and hands. We carry wonderful new lines of products with a wide variety of choices including designer cover sleeves that offer casual and elegant fashions to place over lymphedema sleeve. Also consider consulting with us for compression bras and our experience.

Ask us about travel sleeves for all women who have had history of breast surgery, augmentation and reconstruction and for anyone with lymph node dissection interruption. We also carry compression stockings for travel use. Please call us for details and for a personalized fitting.

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Menopause, what can I say! It is a subject that our Mother’s never got around to, nor discussed, with all of us young girls growing up. Have you ever considered why? Maybe they were just going through it themselves and had their own issues that they were not able to talk about. All I know is that I now know why my Mom’s hair looked awful for several years. It was because she had such hot flashes that her hair was constantly soaked and flat to her head. Need I say more…

Considering all of us “millions of Baby Boomers” are experiencing (or beginning to experience) menopause that is a natural course of aging. For me I experienced menopause 10 years earlier than expected due to my course of chemotherapy I received due to breast cancer treatment. One day I was pre-menopausal and the next day I was menopausal. It happened that quickly. One night early into chemotherapy I woke up several times to go to the bathroom. My feet were hurting and I experienced major hot flashes all the time. During the day I was completely soaked most of the time and my wig was most uncomfortable. It was hot, heavy and did not breathe or ventilate well. These were symptoms that made me and my husband crazy. He was not used to the constant … “It’s hot in here! Or Is it just me?” In 1992 there were few suggestions to help us cope and most of it was looking for information and talking to other women about their experiences. Needless to say there were few ideas or products to help us cope.

The good news! Now there are products and resources to help understand menopause and keep you comfortable during those unbelievable “Steamers.” Talk to us. We can help. We have a variety of products available to you online and in our store. Products include wicking day wear, sleepwear, head caps, head bands and products to keep your pillow cool.

Susan Thomas is a member of the North American Menopause Society

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Congratulate The Courage

Your treatment is over, chemotherapy is done, you may have a little peach fuzz growing on top of your head, and you may be wearing new breast forms or anticipating your final reconstruction surgery. We all send to you our hearty Congratulations! Congratulate the Courage! You have mustered the faith and the energy to keep moving forward and you are now a pro, you are now a survivor, you are the one in the know!

We are so proud of you and so grateful you have invited us into your journey. We are appreciative of the opportunity to serve you and for your vote of confidence in us and our store. As you move forward, remember we are still here for you. You will need additional help with bras, breast forms and partial forms. There is always something new at Susan’s Special Needs and new technology in regard to the products you are now wearing. Don’t forget the skin care issues that face our skin after treatment and the need for constant moisturizers and sun protection, not only sunscreen, you will also need a good sun hat. We will always have new swimsuits, new swim forms, new camisoles and other products to meet your new needs.

We are here to continue to serve and help you. Call me anytime I will be so anxious to hear from you and just to say hello. You are now part of our family.

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