A store that helps breast cancer patients may close because owner is dying of cancer

Absolute Dignity in Smithville, Missouri, needs a buyer.
Absolute Dignity in Smithville, Missouri, needs a buyer. Screen grab of Absolute Dignity's Facebook post

A two-time breast cancer survivor who had both her breasts removed 17 years ago struggled to find good-fitting bras and swimwear, so she started her own shop for other patients, according to the Absolute Dignity website.

“She decided this was not right, it should not be this hard,” the website says.

Kathy Dibben opened Absolute Dignity in Smithville, Missouri on June 4, 2007. That was five years after her bilateral mastectomy in 2002, and 17 years after her first cancer fight in 1990.

But now after 12 years of owning and operating the store, Dibben may be forced to close it if she cannot find a buyer for Absolute Dignity. The boutique shop carries breast prostheses, special tops, pocketed swimwear and other items, including wigs and regular bras.

“It is with a heavy, heavy heart that I inform you that my cancer has progressed to the point that I must now find a buyer for Absolute Dignity,” she posted to Facebook on Sunday evening.

Dibben wrote that her cancer has spread to “multiple locations,” including her brain, and her doctor has stopped all cancer treatments except for her pain medication. She is being placed in palliative/hospice care, according to the post.

“I absolutely cannot stand the thought of not being there for my over 1,500 mastectomy patients,” she wrote. “After 12 years, Absolute Dignity was thriving. It has become increasingly more difficult to continue the level of care I so desire for my clients.”

Dibben asks that you contact her if you or someone you know is interested in buying the downtown Smithville shop, which is about 22 miles north of Kansas City. She can be reached via the store email AbsoluteDignity@aol.com, or via phone at 816-532-6338.

“The vision for this shop is to make everyone feel special,” according to the Absolute Dignity website. “You will find an atmosphere of love, compassion, and hope.”

In 2017, Dibben told the Courier Tribune that she regularly had clients from across the U.S. coming to her store for “her services as a certified mastectomy fitter.”

She told the newspaper her clients were the most rewarding part of owning the shop.

“I’ve watched them come in bent over, covering themselves, and they walk out a foot taller,” she said at the time, according to the Tribune. “It’s just amazing to see the life that shows up in these ladies.”

Roxanne Edwards, an LPN and certified medical tattooist at the University of Kansas Hospital, tattooed a nipple and areola for patient Patricia Frommer, who started crying when she saw herself reflected in a mirror. The video has been blurred at

Kaitlyn Alanis is based out of Kansas and reports on news from across the Midwest region. She has been at The Wichita Eagle since 2017.