When you’re spending your days positively impacting people’s lives and thriving off of it, there’s no opportunity to feel stressed while on the job.
At least, that’s how Mary Walsh Aframe describes how she feels about her career of choice.
Aframe is the owner and founder of Women’s Image Center, a health care boutique devoted to helping women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer look and feel their best. How so? With custom breast prostheses, breast forms, post-mastectomy garments and wigs.
But, don’t think Aframe is all frills and no substance.
In fact, the Massachusetts-based center utilizes the best tools that science and technology can offer to treat women with cancer in a way that medicine can’t.
“Helping a woman look and feel her best while she’s in treatment is paramount for recovery,” says Aframe. “There’s a therapeutic aspect to it, and a big emotional piece.”
Aframe has never been a stranger to the way disease and illness affects one’s appearance. She grew up with sisters who had alopecia and was exposed to the power of wearing wigs to retain a sense of self.
Aframe spent much of her early career working as a dental hygienist, while pursuing the type of aesthetic care she works in now. While studying and training to be a certified mastectomy fitter, she worked her dental job at night and dreamed of ultimately being her own boss.
Finally, she was able to open her first shop in 2000, to sell and fit women into post-mastectomy products, whether in silicone forms or custom-made prostheses. Her shop also includes compression garments, and hats and wigs for those who have experienced hair-loss due to chemotherapy.
“I love what I do. It’s a good feeling to make a difference in someone’s life” says Aframe. “When you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s devastating.”
She continues, “When I see a woman in my office, she’s not just worried about losing her hair, part or both of her breasts. She’s worried about her future, her family, her grandkids.”
Aframe has embraced the technological advances to provide her clients with cutting-edge service. “It’s a different world than when I started. We have everything today and there’s so much we can do.”
In other words, there’s nothing holding Aframe back from constructing an uber-realistic and custom-made breast prosthesis that can make someone feel whole again.
“We use a CAD program and scanner. We can recreate whatever amount of breast volume that has been lost through mastectomy or lumpectomy,” she says. “It’s something made just for them and the women are so appreciative of that.”
Aframe says it’s also about giving women more options if undergoing a surgical breast reconstruction is not possible for them.
Working with women in such precarious stages of their life can sometimes be an emotional experience for Aframe. “Sometimes they want to cry or express anger. I always say, ‘this is a good environment to let it out,’” she says.
But most of the time, her days are filled with positive and cathartic moments and constantly being inspired by the strength of her clients. “Women are amazing. They go through treatment, they’re at the soccer field, taking care of elderly parents,” she says. “Life doesn’t miss a beat [for them] because of a diagnosis.”