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Mary Aframe

Founder and Owner of the Women’s Image Center

Mary Aframe took an idea about providing wigs and breast prosthesis for cancer patients and turned it into a business that gives women support and bolsters their self-confidence during a difficult time in their lives.

Mrs. Aframe was a dental hygienist for 22 years. She earned her associate’s degree in science as part of the dental hygienist program from Quinsigamond in 1981.

“When I first started my business, I worked as a dental hygienist evenings and weekends,” she said. “I still have my license.”

When her daughters were young, they went to a school in Fitchburg. Driving them to school one day, Mrs. Aframe noticed a new cancer center was being built and it gave her the idea to start a business to offer wigs and prosthesis to cancer patients.

Her two older sisters were involved in women’s hair replacement in Boston, so she knew about wigs, and her training as a hygienist had given her some knowledge about orthotics. “My oldest sister, Pat, trained me in how to care for wigs, washing them and cutting them, and then I became certified in prosthetics, orthotics and compression garments,” she said.

Fifteen years later, she has two locations offering different prosthetics, wigs, and personal items, including bras and camisoles, for post-mastectomy clients. The Women’s Image Center, in Worcester and Leominster, is an accredited facility that has served thousands of women. The American Board of Orthotics and Prosthetics has certified her as a mastectomy fitter and fitter for compression garments. For more information about services offered at the center, go to www.thewomensimagecenter.com

Mrs. Aframe has done significant volunteer work with the American Cancer Society; assisting with the “Look Good…Feel Better” programs run throughout Massachusetts. In 2008, ACS recognized her with the annual giving of The Sunshine Award for volunteers who have displayed exceptional dedication and outstanding leadership to the program.

She is also an active member of The Pink Revolution, an alliance of dedicated individuals banding together with a commitment to institute fundamental change in the lives of those touched by breast cancer.

 “Everyone says I found the perfect job for myself, I offer people comfort and care,” she said. Helping others has made her even more compassionate and caring. “It helps you appreciate every day and never take a day for granted,” she said. “Things can change quickly without any notice.”

Mrs. Aframe said the competitive program at QCC helped her develop a work ethic that continues today. She was living at home and working part-time in a dental clinic while attending school.

 “To this day, I use skills I learned at Quinsigamond in my business,” she said. The vigorous program included doing outreach in the community and providing services to those without insurance. She said that helped instill in her the importance of giving back to the community.

She has kept in touch with other women from her class, and has seen some of them become leaders of similar programs at QCC and Mount Wachusett Community College.

Mrs. Aframe was nominated by the former head of the program, AnneMarie Iverson. “She was intimidating to me at the time, and to be nominated for this award by her touched my heart,” she said. “It makes you look at your life and realize how far you’ve come. It opened my eyes to see how I’ve evolved and grown since I was a young student at QCC.”

She has two adult daughters. She and her husband, Carl, reside in Worcester.

She said she also has been amazed at the growth of Quinsigamond, and impressed with the expansion, including the new downtown location. “It is wonderful to able offer education that is accessible and affordable,” she said. “Knowledge is power.”

“I hope my story will help others see the springboard effect that QCC can have,” she said. “It was always my dream to be an entrepreneur; I just didn’t know how it would happen.”