Surviving Breast Cancer: Interview With Tabitha Celine Austin, Denver Woman, Owner Of Celine's Designer Resale Boutique

10/12/2011 05:54 pm ET | Updated Dec 12, 2011

Tabitha Celine Austin, owner of Celine’s Designer Resale Boutique, opened her first upscale consignment shop in Aurora in early 2005 followed with a Parker location in January of 2011.

However, in between the two she dealt with more than the normal trials of a small business owner: In December of 2009 she was diagnosed with stage I breast cancer. We caught up with Tabitha to talk about the road to recovery and the impact it’s had on Celine’s.

How was your cancer discovered?
I found the lump myself, which was on the right breast, the size of a grape. I immediately went in for my first mammogram right after the discovery at the age of 42. It was followed by an ultrasound that day and the doctor scheduled a biopsy about a week later … it was cancer. I was in utter shock and very scared. Cancer did not run in my family and I had just had a baby a year prior.

How did you find balance between work and treatment?
I had an amazing staff and husband who contributed to balancing out the work load of both home and business.

And maintaining the store?
While I was out three months [my employees] took care of everything. I couldn't have been more blessed knowing that they were taking care of my business. My mom, sister, mother-in-law and friends from out-of-state came to assist with caring for me and helping with my family and newborn baby. I was so thankful for the outpour of their generosity.

When did you finish treatments?
My breast cancer was classified as stage I ductal cancer in the right breast. I took the radical route and decided to have a double mastectomy … three months following the diagnosis. Since I had caught the cancer early enough, I was fortunate not to have to endure chemotherapy or radiation treatments following the surgery. I [opted to have] breast reconstructive surgery immediately following the mastectomy.

When did you begin plans for your second location?
It wasn't until after a clean bill of health (March, 2010) that I was able to get back to work and focus on my business again. I opened the second location [in Parker] eight months later.

How has your experience as a cancer survivor affected you as a business owner?
It has opened doors to a huge network of other cancer survivors through my business by sharing and supporting those people who have or have had breast cancer. I share my experience with so many people when I am working and by doing so I have developed new friendships -- a sisterhood, if you will -- as a cancer survivor. I'm amazed every day and so grateful to share or support my customers who have or are going through breast cancer.

Celine’s Designer Resale Boutique, 15254 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora; 303-680-5544
Celine Repeats, 17914 Cottonwood Drive, Parker; 303-766-7467

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