Carolyn Sluiter rallies behind her work

Thursday, August 26, 2010

FREEPORT, Ill. - Provider Carolyn Sluiter doesn't count attending bike rallies among her typical activities, but a late July weekend found her doing just that.

"A group of local bikers invited us to an event called Breast Fest," said Sluiter, founder of Freeport Home Medical Equipment. "Proceeds from the event go to breast cancer research and awareness. It was a fun thing."

The provider set up a booth that included clothing and other post-mastectomy products, as well as information about breast self-exams and insurance coverage. They even borrowed a breast form from the local cancer society that demonstrated what a breast lump feels like.

"Women would go get their husbands and say, 'You need to feel this,'" said Sluiter. "It was really educational for people."

Sluiter met several breast cancer survivors at the event and was happy to show them the wide range of bras, tank tops and swimwear available these days.

"Women can wear whatever they want," said Sluiter. "We have a lot of really cute things."

Freeport Home Medical Equipment, which opened in 2001, offers a full line of DME, respiratory and sleep. Last October the provider opened a second location in Belvedere and expanded its mastectomy offerings. Since then, the provider has found creative ways to support breast cancer survivors--and get her name in the community.

"You never know where you are going to meet your potential customers," said Sluiter.

In February, the provider purchased several hundred swimsuits on clearance from Amoena and hosted a tropical-themed event at the local country club, complete with a DJ. Women tried on suits, sampled champagne and nibbled chocolate-covered strawberries. They also snapped up the suits at $35 apiece--they typically retail for about $90.

"We wanted to get the word out," said Sluiter. "We try to do something for the local cancer support group. It was just a fun night."