This week I had the pleasure of meeting Taryn Rose, Orthopedic Surgeon and founder of Taryn Rose Shoes. In 1998, Dr. Rose changed the footwear industry by creating a line of comfortable, yet beautiful, handcrafted shoes. I’ve always thought of “comfortable shoes” as being thick-soled athletic shoes or clumsy-looking orthopedic shoes, but Taryn Rose shoes are anything but orthopedic-looking. As we talked, I suggested she consider marketing to the millions of women, like me, who’ve had breast cancer and need comfortable shoes because of peripheral neuropathy.
Simply put, neuropathy means there’s been some kind of damage to the peripheral nerves that control the feelings in our arms and legs.Chemotherapy, radiation, diabetes and alcohol, are just a few of things that can cause nerve damage, resulting in everything from numbness or a burning “pins and needles” sensation, to weakness and cramping that makes walking painful and, after a few minutes, downright unbearable.
Not all cancer patients develop neuropathy, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology says many recover fully with time. While many of the symptoms I listed are worst-case scenarios, don’t let fear of neuropathy stop you from taking the treatment your oncologist recommends. I was one of the ones who developed neuropathy during chemo. Although most of my symptoms have since disappeared, I still have mild numbness in my fingers and toes, plus it sometimes feels like electrical shocks are shooting down my legs. That brings me back to the shoe thing. Since chemo, I've worn comfortable shoes all the time. They’ve helped my neuropathy, given me better balance and made walking easier. Many of these shoes have been Taryn Rose. My favorites are called Fierce and Ballerina.
Even without neuropathy many of us, especially as we get older, experience trouble with our feet and can no longer wear Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City shoes, or can only wear them for short periods of time. My girlfriend, Gayle, calls them “special event” shoes. Another friend calls them “sit and sip” shoes. I love that term. It conjures up a pretty Southern belle, with honey dripping from her voice who says, “Why yes. I would love another Mint Julep… provided you walk over here and bring it to me!”
Can you imagine Carrie Bradshaw with neuropathy? In the next Sex and the City movie, I think Taryn Rose should be the shoe designer of choice. After all, the last season ended with Samantha’s revelation she had breast cancer. Since Samantha’s character has always been so upfront about everything, she would tell us about the “shoe thing” and sing the praises of Taryn Rose.
So Taryn, for all of the Samantha’s—the breast cancer women of the world—perhaps you can give your next line of shoes names like Strength, Survivor and Sisterhood.