Survivor Friendly began in 2016 after the founder, Jacqueline Cromity, had more than her fair share of cancer experiences. When she was 8 years old, her mother died of breast cancer, and cancer took her father’s life in June 2020. Cromity’s personal cancer journey began in 2013 and continued through 2020.
Daily radiation, a concoction of numerous medications, Neulasta injections and chemotherapy wreaked havoc on her body. Cromity’s skin, hair and nails began to show signs of the internal war against cancer. Now declared cancer-free for the third time, Cromity has undergone a lumpectomy and bilateral mastectomies and has endured many other surgeries throughout her treatment.
After going through the many challenges she faced during her cancer experience, Cromity was motivated to create Survivor Friendly to help other women struggling to return to their normal routines after cancer changed their physical appearance. Her founding goal was to empower women to regain their confidence more quickly through a community of supporters.
For four years, Survivor Friendly distributed free bags stocked with beauty essentials and other supplies to help with the healing process of life after cancer.
During those four years, Cromity thought, “I cherish each day I breathe life, but my heart is burdened by the lack of resources available to people like me and I plan to do something about it.”
That personal burden inspired her to expand the mission of Survivor Friendly to be more inclusive, taking into account the lack of mastectomy options that considered age, ethnicity, race and lifestyle of patients with cancer.
“I remember wearing a tank top that required my prostheses to be placed in pockets. When I looked in the mirror, the pink prostheses were showing through the fabric. I thought, with current technology, if you lost a leg, you could build a prosthesis from nothing. With that in mind, having a breast prosthetic that looks like me and can be worn outside of a pocket should not be impossible. I should be able to have a piece of me back that looks like me,” shared Cromity.
This realization had a powerful effect and was a call to action for Cromity.
Cromity knew that Survivor Friendly could help with these barriers by improving well-being and quality of life, as well as aiding survivors in overcoming daily challenges. Their certified fitters provide thorough consultations, during which they can understand the unique needs and goals of the patients they serve. Their product selection offers ethnically and racially diverse items that also take age into account. Both custom and off-the-shelf products are available to insured and uninsured patients.
Any patient can access Survivor Friendly services through the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program’s Self-Image service locations at Duke Cancer Center in Durham and Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh.