Nearly hidden among the swimsuits and baseball caps arrayed on a top shelf at the Next Step boutique in Los Gatos, there's a sudden glitter of crystal. It's an award, actually. And that award -- not to mention its position -- says everything about the shop's proprietor, Marita Trobough. Marita, who was honored as a "community champion" at KTEH's "Speaking of Women's Health" conference this year, is every bit a champion. But she's a reluctant one, at least where the spotlight is concerned, as much as she loves the work she does, that work is its own reward -- and she doesn't exactly like soaking in the spotlight.
     On the surface, the work Marita does looks pretty ordinary: She runs a small, wood-paneled boutique, and spends her days dealing with all the predictable retailer's responsibilities that come with it. What's different about Marita's boutique is the clientele it serves: women who are battling cancer.
     " I remember this one customer, a rabbi, who came into the shop to help his wife pick out some things she needed. He watched me very carefully for a while, and then he grasped my arm and said, "My dear, what you have here isn't a business. This is a mission you have. Look around here. Look at what you're doing"
Baseball caps, specialty bras and swimsuits are a mission? Well, yes, for Marita. She believes that her clients, who are facing the hardest fight of their lives, deal better with the rigors of their treatments when they feel better about their reflections in the mirror -- and feel more comfortable in their clothes. Studies suggest that support groups,
counseling and other "fuzzy" forms of care actually help patients' prognoses; the American Cancer Society for example, co-sponsors a "Look Good, Feel Better" Program at Los Gatos Hospital that brings cosmetologists to patients in the hope that looking better will actually help them do better in their treatments. But Marita sees her contribution not so much as a medical care as just plain caring.

-- Incomplete story taken from the October 2003 Issue of San Jose Magazine


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