An Unfamiliar Path
Author: Gillian Date Posted:16 July 2017
"Don't be afraid to take an unfamiliar path, SOMETIMES, they're the ones that take you to the BEST places" Unknown
The words above were given to me as a bookmark when I took over Colleen's in January 2014. I was about to embark on a very unfamiliar path in one sense and yet a very familiar one on the other.
My breast cancer diagnosis in 2008 threw me onto a very unfamiliar path, one I had no control over and one which was more like a mountain climb. As I navigated my way up that mountain, stumbling many times, crashing down at other times, I had no idea that this unfamiliar path would lead me onto another unfamiliar path, one which I continue to travel.
I knew all about having breast cancer but what did I know about bras, other than that I wore one, which now just happened to have a pocket to hold my breast form? I knew that the choice of mastectomy bras had been very limited and that more and more styles were appearing along with improved breast forms. What if Colleen's could offer as much choice as possible, not only in pocketed lingerie but in swimwear and clothing? What if women who had breast surgery could walk into a shop, knowing that everything was designed for them? (This was something I found very hard back in 2008, finding a halter neck bra to fit my breast form, finding dresses or tops that weren't low cut or strapless that I felt confident wearing). What if this same shop was a place to buy turbans, wigs, organic skin care products for those undergoing chemotherapy? And what if friends or family could come and choose practical gifts for their loved ones?
In January 2014 I stepped out on to that unfamiliar path with a vision and passion in my heart - what else did I need??? Looking back on the past 3 1/2 years I can't imagine travelling any other path. I am still as passionate about ensuring choice, not only in Canberra but in the regional areas. I was so excited to open a shop in Cowra which delivers a service to the women in that region as well as regularly visiting other regional areas - places I'd never been to before and now I love travelling the countryside! This is even more remarkable when I look back on the time after treatment when I was so anxious that the thought of driving would thow me into a panic attack and I just couldn't do it.
One thing I didn't anticipate was listening to your stories, the newly diagnosed, those undergoing treatment, and those who have seen the changes since their own diagnosis, some over the past 20 or 30 years. I feel privileged to be able to listen, to laugh and to cry and to be able to support you however we can.
My vision for Colleen's has taken shape, but I won't stop there! I will continue to search the world for the latest designs and products to bring you the very best.
Who knows what unfamiliar path I may take next?