By Martie Thompson
editor@floridanewsline.com

When Jeri Millard was diagnosed with breast cancer 17 years ago, she was frustrated because she had to go to many different places to get all the specialty items she needed. One day she said she had to undress five times for five different doctors and she wondered why they couldn’t all come to one place? This gave her the idea to open In the Pink, a 501 C 3 boutique serving men, women and children with all types of cancer.

“I kept a notebook for eight years,” Millard said. “I jotted down ideas of what should be in the store, so cancer patients could just go to one place for everything at a time when they are so tired and scared.”

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In the Pink opened in 2009 and Millard said it is more than just a place for cancer patients to get stuff — it’s also a place to get knowledge.

“Women come to the store sometimes with their husbands and they are scared. I can take them to our private sitting room and talk to them and try to make them feel more comfortable,” Millard said.

She said that sometimes seeing and touching items such as prosthetics and mastectomy bras and knowing what is available can make people less fearful.

“We show them that they can look normal again, and this can be very reassuring,” Millard said.

In the Pink, which accepts most major types of insurance, stocks wigs, post-surgical garments, hats, scarves, and radiation skin care among other things. Millard said that men recovering from cancer often get compression garments and everyone can use the radiation skin creams. A new item that has enjoyed good word of mouth is an all natural product that chemo patients can apply to their eyebrows and eyelashes to keep them from falling out.

Millard believes that everyone should be afforded the same dignity when going through cancer treatment and that is where the 501 C 3 status of In the Pink comes in. She is proud that 100 percent of every dollar that is donated via fundraisers and sponsorships goes directly to In the Pink’s mission of helping cancer patients in need. Patients with no insurance or who are Medicaid-eligible receive needed items free of charge. Meanwhile, all of the store’s overhead is paid by insurance reimbursements and shop sales of items such as scarves, which are not covered by insurance.

Millard, along with husband Marty, is also known for bringing dragon boating to Jacksonville. She was looking for something she could do to continue exercising and one of her In the Pink clients suggested she check out dragon boating. In 2011, Millard raised enough money to purchase two dragon boats and the Jacksonville Dragon Boat Club was formed. Today, the club has a workout facility and about 80 members of all ages. There are a number of teams, both recreational and competitive, made up of men, women, youth, mixed, and the breast cancer survivor team known as the Mammoglams.

In the Pink has expanded its services to include another location, on Hendricks Avenue in San Marco, to complement the original location on N. 3rd Street in Jacksonville Beach. Free yoga for cancer patients is held on Wednesday mornings at the Jacksonville Beach location.

Visit www.jaxinthepink.com for more information about In the Pink or to make a donation.

Photos courtesy Jeri Millard

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