Julie Hyde-Edwards is a breast cancer survivor and an entrepreneur, and those two things are joined at the hip for her.
The Royal Oak resident was working as a graphic designer for a financial services firm when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lost her job midway through fighting her illness, and ended up going through a double mastectomy, which required removing large amounts of tissue from each breast.
But she survived. She innovated a new technology. And now she is working on commercializing it with her own startup, re-Contour
"I was learning that there were stages of this that were problematic, so I tried to fix it myself," Hyde-Edwards says.
Re-Contour's technology is a type of surgical dressing that improves the aesthetic look of the breast and nipple, helping it avoid flattening and encourages healing after a mastectomy. The re-Contour dressing cover the breast mound, with no contact on the nipple area – providing a safe space around the newly created nipple and preventing clothes from applying pressure to it.
Mastectomies routinely leave large scars on the survivor, and nipple loss after the procedure is not uncommon. Many women struggle with the physical changes that occur after a mastectomy.
"It looks like someone took a machete and tried to cut you in half," Hyde-Edwards says. "It's pretty hard to look at."
Hyde-Edwards is currently working with Dr. Kenneth Shaheen
, section head of plastic surgery at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, on commercializing the technology. Re-Contour received a patent for its dressing in April and it recently took first place in the Growth category (worth $13,900) at the Entrepreneur-YOU business and pitch plan competition at Walsh College
Re-Contour has been working with a variety of local economic accelerators, such as TechTown
in Detroit and the Macomb-OU INCubator
in Sterling Heights, but isn't directly enrolled in any specific incubator program.
"We're hoping to produce this product within a year," Hyde-Edwards says.
Source: Julie Hyde-Edwards, founder & CEO of re-Contour
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.