two women looking at the mirror smiling

Addressing Changes in Self-Image


When thinking of cancer support services, often support groups and counseling are the first to come to mind. However, services that address self-image changes are equally as valuable, because cancer and its treatment can change how you look and feel about yourself.

Unlike many cancer centers, Duke Cancer Institute’s Supportive Care & Survivorship Center has a robust self-image program dating back to 1987 with the founding of the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program (DCPSP).

Program creator, Rachel Schanberg, was known to keep wigs under her desk — turning her office into a consultation room in the blink of an eye. Schanberg was a true advocate, which led to DCPSP opening their first space dedicated to wig fitting, scarf tying and other personal care items available for cancer patients in the late 1990’s.

The impact of these services were so evident that when planning for the building of the Duke Cancer Center that 1,000 square feet of space on the entry level was slated for self-image services. This space, which opened in February of 2012, is known as the Belk Boutique.

Given the larger space, the Belk Boutique was able to expand beyond their selection of wigs and head coverings. The location added apparel, which includes garments for comfortable port access, Duke Cancer Institute branded gear and cancer awareness shirts. The complimentary section, a service offered throughout the entire existence of DCPSP, grew significantly to feature a larger selection of wigs, turbans, scarves, and caps. These items are available at no charge to Duke patients currently undergoing cancer treatment, so as to ensure they have access to these resources.

To continue the mission of providing comprehensive access to self-image services, a full line of prosthetic services by certified prosthetic and orthotic fitters as well as sexual health services were added to the list of offerings when the Belk Boutique opened.

Staff are not ‘cashiers’ — they are self-image consultants, a role specifically created to help patients and their family members adapt to changes in body-image experienced throughout their cancer journey. The staff, most of whom are cancer survivors, offer personalized private consultations.

This model has been well received by patients and their loved ones. In July of 2016, Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh added a Boutique at their location. Duke Cancer Center Raleigh was next to open a Boutique the following January.

We invite you explore this self-image experience at any of our three locations. To reach the Belk Boutique at the Duke Cancer Center in Durham, call 919.613.1906. For the Boutique at Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh, call 919.307.0161. For the Boutique at Duke Cancer Center Raleigh call 919.954.3132.

This page was reviewed on 12/14/2021