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The Year of Blogging: Completed

Lisa F. CritesI was hoping before this final Blog, we could have communicated that we had attained Medicare coverage, thus all commercial insurers would also be supporting reimbursement for shower coverings for breast cancer patients. Unfortunately, we can’t announce that outcome, but are extremely appreciative with the recent filing of the ‘Post Mastectomy Infection Reduction Act’ legislation to push Medicare to reimburse for shower coverings.

After regurgitating the past five years of my life through this Blog, I’m happy to say I’ve not only hit my five year mark as a breast cancer survivor, but The SHOWER SHIRT Co. has hit its three year mark as the only water-resistant mastectomy garment on the US market; a fantastic milestone personally and a success story professionally.

I was asked a few days ago if “The SHOWER SHIRT Co. was rocking and rolling yet?” I had to think about that question for a second. I answered simply, “It’s rocking.”

We’ve obviously made huge progress in keeping women out of trash bags while showering after breast amputation. We’ve sold thousands of Shower Shirts not only in this country but other countries. We have Walmart.com, multiple e-commerce healthcare groups, mastectomy boutiques and hospital systems as continued buyers. We have solid patent protection for not only our product, but ‘method of use.’ Though not until we’ve attained Medicare coverage will I feel comfortable saying, “We are rocking and rolling.”

With maturity comes wisdom, with increased wisdom, hopefully, one attains increased knowledge. Subsequently, the more knowledge you have, the more wisdom and power you have to make wiser decisions. However, there are certain times in life when every bit of wisdom, knowledge and power you thought you had suddenly disappears.

My most profound education in life didn’t start until I chose to dive into both personal and financial liability to help others through creating The SHOWER SHIRT Co. and designing a product to help breast cancer surgery patients. I do miss my life before breast cancer and the Shower Shirt, but wouldn’t change my world at this time for anything. I now live a more meaningful, reflective, disciplined life.

My husband has said to me on a many occasions, “Lisa, you have a lot of courage to do what you have done. Not everyone has that type of courage.” Though he drives me crazy on most occasions, he’s the biggest blessing I’ve ever been given, and by far, my most valuable asset.

I have fortunately gained relationships I would not have known without breast cancer and the Shower Shirt. At the same time, I’ve also evolved out of a handful of personal and professional relationships. When our primary focus on life evolves, unfortunately, sometimes our relationships do as well.

I still miss my mom immensely, but have come to terms with the fact I’ll never accept her tragic death, but through much praying and discussions with my higher power, I’ve learned to better manage the emotions of that loss, and absolutely believe we’ll be together again in another place and time.

In closing, it’s important to remember there is no success in the world until you’ve helped vulnerable people going through an extremely vulnerable process. The photo below depicts a picture perfect example of what I’ve tried to do over the past several years; to help other breast cancer patients, while going through this vulnerable process (Photo: Courtesy of my BFF, Raelyn Barlow).

day of caring 4

Success is not Given; it’s Earned with Blood, Sweat, and the Occasional Tear.”

To read all excerpts from ‘The Year of Blogging,’ go to www.theshowershirt.com/blog.

Blessings to each and every one of you,

Lisa F. Crites

Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor
Corporate Healthcare Consultant
Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

What a Difference a Few Years Can Make

 

Lisa F. CritesWith our many Blogs over the past year, we’ve been very clear about our trials and tribulations related to bringing The SHOWER SHIRT product to market, strategizing to keep it on the market, while also fighting with the bureaucrats in Washington DC.

We’ve all heard the term, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Well even in a perfect world, the squeaky wheel can become quite annoying at times, and why being “squeaky” was another balancing act of our doing business. From the beginning, U.S. Congressman Bill Posey and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson stood behind the need for Medicare coverage for our product. However, writing a letter of support and actually taking a stance is two different attributes. I will always be indebted to my good friend Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos who helped snag a meeting directly with Congressman Posey’s office to discuss our ongoing endeavor to attain Medicare coverage for shower coverings for breast cancer patients.

After our initial meeting with Congressman Posey, and a subsequent trip to Washington D.C. to meet with VP Joe Biden’s Chief of Staff, and both U.S. Congressman Bill Posey and U.S. Congressman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s teams, legislation was finally filed for the ‘shower covering’ initiative for breast cancer patients.

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                Photo of Moe Vela, myself, and husband, David (Phil) – in VP Biden’s office.

On Friday, May 9, 2014, bipartisan legislation was introduced by U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) to help aid breast cancer patients in their recovery following surgical procedures. The Post-Mastectomy Infection Reduction Act (H.R. 4627) authorizes Medicare to also extend this coverage for breast cancer patients when it is determined to be medically necessary to reduce the risk of infection.

Whew!! After a five year battle, we finally had political support for ‘shower coverings’ for breast cancer surgery patients. So what’s the obvious moral of this story? DON’T GIVE UP!! Keep pushing and pushing until someone listens. Be the squeaky wheel, but remember to always manage the noise.

To celebrate our victory, I wrote a guest column for FLORIDA TODAY on why it is essentially taking an act of Congress to keep women out of trash bags when showering after mastectomy surgery.

Guest column: Medicare Reimbursement Battle Progresses                                                       

http://www.floridatoday.com/story/opinion/columnists/guest-columns/2014/05/09/guest-column-medicare-reimbursement-battle-progresses/8913303/

 

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites

Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor

Corporate Healthcare Consultant

Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

Proactive Versus Reactive

 

Lisa F. CritesSince The SHOWER SHIRT Co. was finally out of debt, it was time to focus on proactive strategy, research and development. It felt I had essentially lived the last four years in reactive mode, versus a proactive mind set. After introducing the Shower Shirt garment to the US market more than three years earlier, my team and I had constantly been reacting to issues and more often, roadblocks absolutely out of our control. Whether it was our manufacturer increasing our order from 675 to 2,000 units, or the US Government stating The SHOWER SHIRT™ was a convenience and not a medical necessity; and then the US Patent & Trademark office deeming our product as un-patentable and then immediately patentable. Either way, it seemed we had been absolutely beholden to others and their decisions as to where our product was going, or not going for that matter. With our recent ‘out of debt’ status, we finally, felt we had a small amount of control on the future outcome of this product and ultimate direction of the company.

With that said it was time to concentrate our newfound freedom and roll out a new  sizePlus option for surgery patients. Since the products debut in spring 2011, we knew we were required to create a plus size and been constantly asked by customers to do so. With every patient who stated they needed larger than a Large/X-large, I held my breath hoping our largest unit would actually fit. Luckily, we found a way to manipulate the size perimeters for additional sizing, but ultimately still needed to design a proper plus size for the population in need.

Through only a small amount of research, we were able to find a manufacturer who was willing to supply a minimum order of 200 units. We forwarded the plus size dimensions to the manufacturer, and quickly received our sample prototype. How cool, within a month’s timeframe, we were on our way to rolling out our fifth Shower Shirt product. Only a fraction of time, in compared to the year and a half it took to bring the initial products to market the first time around.

Wow, it felt great to be somewhat proactively in control after several years of uncontrollable reactivity.

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites

Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor

Corporate Healthcare Consultant

Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

Out of Debt

 

Lisa F. CritesBy spring of 2014, The SHOWER SHIRT Co. was out of debt. We were able to pay off the entire 2,000 units of product inventory (remember, our manufacturer unexpectedly increased our minimum order from 675 to 2,000), and legal fees for attaining our patent. We knew from the beginning, product inventory and legal costs were essentially going to be our largest financial burdens. All other costs related to conferences, marketing, and travel had been paid consistently over time. We felt extremely fortunate the company had essentially been able to ‘hold its own’ with most of the financials over the past few years. We were also extremely thankful for our patent attorney, Chris Brody, and Chinese liaison, Mike Wilson, for extending patience by letting us pay our debts as we could. With all that said, wow, did it feel great to have the company “out of debt.”

In the process of paying off monies related to the company, I was also trying to pull myself out of debt personally. As you may remember, when I was laid off from my corporate media strategy position at Wuesthoff Health System in February 2011, only a few months after bringing the Shower Shirt product to market, I had three mortgages hanging over my head; two condos and a farm. Since being laid off, I had consistently worked as a corporate healthcare consultant while also managing the operational and marketing aspects of The SHOWER SHIRT Co. Luckily, with the consistent consulting work, I was able to pay off two of those three mortgages. Needless to say, I was again feeling more and more confident about my personal finances, along with The SHOWER SHIRT Co.’s growth and consistent income receivables.

By this time, the Shower Shirt product was available at more than 70 mastectomy boutiques and hospital-based retail locations across the United States, Europe and Canada. The product was still being sold online with Walmart.com Medical Device Division, Health Products For You, Amazon, and Cure Diva; an international breast cancer/mastectomy e-commerce site with offices in Germany, Israel and Miami, FL. The product has also  been shipped internationally to Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Spain, and Austria.

We had continued to gain media coverage locally, regionally, and nationally.  Coincidentally, around that same timeframe, WKMG Local 6, the CBS affiliate in Orlando, FL, also phoned requesting an interview for a broadcast feature for their ‘Making A Difference’ segment.  We  were ecstatic to be part of this programming as they only choose organizations in which they believe to be truly making a positive difference in the lives of individuals.  A wonderful compliment to be featured on this specific television news program.

WKMG 6                  WKMG Local 6 – CBS affiliate – Orlando, FL:                               http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aff0lfY8_zE

On a personal note, to celebrate my paying off two mortgages and The SHOWER SHIRT Co. finally being out of debt, my husband David (yes, I was married at the end of 2013), and I decided to take a trip to the Mediterranean. Somewhat ironic, I guess human nature to get out of debt on one front and then immediately spend money on something else.  Nevertheless, we had a great time in Italy, Greece, Sicily and Turkey!

DSCN0455David (my new husband) and me on Oceana Cruise Line overlooking Istanbul, Turkey

 

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites

Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor

Corporate Healthcare Consultant

Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

 

 

Disney “Go For The Greens” Speaking Engagement

 

Lisa F. CritesThe fall of 2013, I was asked to speak at an event held at Walt Disney World titled “Go for the Greens,” a business development conference for women entrepreneurs. Sponsored by Disney and UPS, Go for the Greens is an organization including representatives from the National Association of Women Business Owners Chapters, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, Women Impacting Public Policy, Women Presidents’ Organization, and the Executive Women’s Golf Association.

I was obviously in phenomenal company with these groups, and ecstatic to have been asked to speak at the Breast Cancer conference luncheon. As a keynote presenter, I was invited to participate in the entire conference, but delayed due to work obligations. Luckily, I was able to attend the last day of meetings before the golf tournament and subsequent luncheon. By this time, I had presented for several speaking engagements at various breast cancer events over the years so I was not the least bit nervous; I was actually looking forward to communicating my story and experiences with this amazing group of women from across the United States.

GoForGreensGolf20130522_1GoForGreensGolf20130538_1

                         “Go for the Greens” Speaking Engagement at Disney World                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOZgHHuEpJA&list=UUyCfEguFG8MeeNc30lYNo2w

I immediately felt a kinship with this group of overachievers. An obvious kinship was the female component, but there was something else lurking with extreme familiarity. I didn’t realize what it was until after my presentation while having one on one conversation’s with many of the guests. The familiarity was everyone I met had the same opinionated, confident, “take the bull by the horns” personalities.

Even in my younger years, I had that same “take the bull by the horns” approach which created adversarial relationships with my father and three brothers. I grew up in an extremely male dominated environment which did not bode well when a female in the family had an opinion, including my mom. This experience at Go for the Greens made me realize there are many, many women who are just as focused, driven, and opinionated as me, with the “I don’t take no for an answer” attitude. More importantly, these women were focused on making a positive difference, while also supporting other women along the way. It was a prolific Woman for Woman environment, something there should be more of in this world. I am forever grateful for being asked to speak at this event, for the reasons listed above, and many, many more.

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites

Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor

Corporate Healthcare Consultant

Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

Business As Usual And A Special Introduction

 

Lisa F. Crites

It was summer 2013. As the next few months rolled on after being awarded our patent, we continued to have many television guest spots at both FOX and CBS affiliate stations. We visited FOX in Nashville, Memphis and Orlando, as well as the CBS affiliate in both Orlando and Jacksonville, and even attained two feature business articles in the Orlando Business Journal on our increase in sales and ongoing Medicare fight.

 

Fox Nashville 2

On the FOX 5 Television set in Nashville with Host, Kelly Sutton

 Orlando Business Journal articles:  JULY 2013                                                                      

SHOWER SHIRT CO’s VOLUME INCREASES:  http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/print-edition/2012/07/20/shower-shirts-sales-volume-nearly.html

THE SHOWER SHIRT CO’s UPHILL MEDICARE BATTLE: http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/blog/2012/07/a-look-at-the-shower-shirts-uphill.html

We were gaining momentum in terms of national educational outreach and participating in as many national breast cancer and kidney/dialysis conferences as our budgets would allow. During this timeframe, we stumbled across the fact The SHOWER SHIRT™ was covered for End Stage Renal Disease patients, (ESRD) patients undergoing dialysis treatment. Due to this recent finding, and our marketing initiatives, we began receiving calls from dialysis patients as well as large dialysis centers from across the country. Essentially, The SHOWER SHIRT™ was covered under the composite payment bundle for ESRD patients under Medicare code A9270, meaning the medical provider was required to order the product for the patient if deemed medically necessary. Of course many patients couldn’t understand the process so we found ourselves constantly trying to explain. Nevertheless, it felt great to say the product was covered by Medicare for dialysis patients, though sadly, we were still a long way from Medicare coverage for breast cancer patients.

As our momentum continued to increase, we were also selling bulks of the product to hospital foundations wanting to supply to their breast cancer patients post-surgery, as well as dialysis centers simply providing to ESRD patients during treatment. During that same timeframe I received a call from a lady in Rockledge, FL, who wanted to purchase The SHOWER SHIRT for her daughter who was undergoing dialysis treatment. Since she was in the same county as I live, I chose to drop the order off at her home versus ship. Mrs. King was absolutely delightful, but clearly upset about her daughter being acutely diabetic, extremely unhealthy and of course unable to shower due to the hemodialysis catheter sutured into her collarbone – a standard protocol for ESRD patients while undergoing dialysis treatment.

I remember her showing me exactly what she was going to do in terms of cutting and sewing our product to fit her daughter’s mid-section as she was a 3X Plus size and our largest size was definitely going to be snug on her daughter. I will always remember Mrs. King. She was the familiar image of  a loving, caring mother who was the sole care-taker of a gravely ill patient who happened to be her daughter; I could clearly see her pain. After meeting her that day, she kept in touch even forwarding photos of her daughter in the newly created cape-like SHOWER SHIRT.

Within six months after meeting Mrs. King, she sent a note to say her daughter had passed away, “at the tender age of 39,” but wanted to thank me for my “contribution in helping her daughter shower the last few months of her life.”

Wow, did that note get to me! It’s because of incredibly positive, life altering memories with Mrs. King, I have kept the resolve to continue this uphill battle of making patient’s lives better by providing a protective garment to shower in, versus a plastic trash bag.  As my friend Mara Hixson has said several times, if you can at least bathe and feel better physically, you will feel better psychologically, something that’s gravely needed when you are ill.

Stay Tuned,

 

Lisa F. Crites

Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor

Corporate Healthcare Consultant

Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

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