By Janis Russell
December 9, 2014 (La Mesa)- The Brighter Side is a boutique that offers services and products to women with breast cancer who are in recovery. Founded in Solana Beach in 1997, The Brighter Side opened its La Mesa store a year ago.
Mari Muscio, owner of the La Mesa shop, also has an adjunct charity fund called the Virginia Ann Scheunemann Memorial Fund, which started in 2003 to assist women who are low income and/or uninsured by providing free products and services.
“When women come to the Brighter Side, they can expect to be in a warm, caring and private environment,” Muscio told East County Magazine in a recent interview. “We explain how to wear the bras/prosthetics, when they can get them etc. We bill their insurance.” Besides bras/prosthetics, this boutique also offers hair alternatives (wig selections, fittings, wraps, scarves and hats), Jane Iredale natural mineral make-up, skinceuticals and LindiSkin for skin healing from chemo and radiation, gifts and whimsical items, and information on local support groups and resources.
The Brighter Side started in La Mesa because women in East County needed a boutique; there was no store. There was a store in Santee, but it closed down a year ago. The tagline is “Don’t just Survive, Thrive!”
“Mari noticed that East County is particularly underserved with regard to breast cancer current care/after-care,” said Mari’s husband, Richard. He noted that East County has significant populations of both elderly women and minority women on fixed incomes, often with inadequate or no insurance.
A patient with breast cancer opened the Solana Beach location. Muscio guesses that it was named the Brighter Side “because it’s a happy place to come, to feel comfortable; women are given hope.”
The La Mesa outlet is staffed by Mari and another employee. New employees are required to take a mastectomy training program to become certified.
The Virginia Ann Scheunemann Memorial Fund is named after a woman who worked many years for the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce. Scheunemann’s husband, John, met Mari’s husband, Richard and helped put together the fund to help women with limited resources.
The charity is always very busy this time of the year, presumably because most women have additional expenses due to the holidays.
This charity drives 100 % of its funds to women who are in need and is an entirely volunteer organization, Muscio notes.
One donation for the fund that has stood out has been the ‘Bells for Boobies’ group. “This group of women works out. Every year, they raise money for the..fund,” Muscio says.
One success story is a 65 year old woman who was a 35 year survivor of breast cancer when she came into the store.
“She had the same prosthesis for 14 years. She didn’t know she could get a new prosthesis and two bras,” Muscio said. The customer had switched doctors and no one ever told her that under the law, women with insurance are entitled to receive two bras each year. Those on Medicare can get even more—six bras, as well as one prosthesis every other year.
One last thought that Muscio would like to share is that breast cancer survivors “do have choices. If they want, they can come to a place where they can get privacy. It’s only for women,” she said, adding that the women are not required to pay up front.
For more information about the Brighter Side, visit: http://www.mybrighterside.com/.
To contact Muscio directly in La Mesa, you can call (619) 461-7565. They are open Tuesdays through Saturdays by appointment only. The location is at 5575 Baltimore Drive, Suite 105, La Mesa 91942.
For the Solana Beach location, call (858) 481-7565. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Appointments are recommended. This is the main location at 439 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach 92075.