For Alice Watkins, getting through the pain and fear of breast cancer was hard, but even worse was her dread of people seeing her after a mastectomy.
Because of the type of surgery she had, plastic surgery wasn't possible.
"I was embarrassed and knew people were looking at me because I was so lopsided," said Watkins. "I didn't even want to go out of the house."
One of the nurses in her doctor's office told her about a couple of places where she could get a prostheses.
"It was one of the best things I could have done for myself. I just want other people who have been through cancer to hang on and not give up hope of ever looking like themselves again," added Watkins.
One of the places Watkins had recommended to her was a Merle Norman Cosmetics Salon in Chicago.
But people from Putnam County don't have to go all the way to Chicago or even Indianapolis to find custom fitted prostheses.
The Merle Norman Cosmetics and hairstyling Salon in downtown Crawfordsville now offers custom fitted prostheses, bras and wigs.
Storeowner Betty Munro and licensed specialist Tracie Bedwell are certified to offer Amoena, Trulife and Jodee products for patients of all ages and needs.
Bedwell, who previously worked in Lafayette, is licensed by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetic and Pedorthics to perform mastectomy fittings. Munro, serving the area for years with custom wig fittings, decided to add this service to her business.
"The next closest place that would file insurance claims for this service was in Indianapolis." Bedwell said.
The Crawfordsville Merle Norman Studio is a one-stop shop.
"We make an appointment with the client, hold a personal and confidential session, explain the process and complete the custom fitting," stated Munro.
"Some women can come in and walk out the same day wearing the products they choose. Others require special ordering, which arrives in about two days. It's amazing to see the smiles on ladies faces when they walk out feeling better about themselves."
Bedwell believes in emphasizing personal service.
"I even make every effort I can to get to people who can't come into the shop. We both have had family members who have been affected by cancer and we want to do whatever we can to help local patients," she said.
The women plan to carry swimsuits and other suitable garments soon.
According to Bedwell, federal law requires insurance companies to pay a certain portion of the yearly needs of breast cancer patients. Her studio is licensed to file Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance claims.
They are located at 136 West Main Street, Crawfordsville, and are open Monday through Saturday. For information or to schedule an appointment call 765-362-0448.