Planet Beach Owner Battles Breast Cancer While Operating Her FranchiseGeneral
Despite a diagnosis of Stage III breast cancer in March, Mendy Bowen remains strong and positive
Two diagnoses of endometriosis left Mendy Bowen little hope that she’d ever have a child. So when the Planet Beach franchise owner in Fort Myers, Fla., got pregnant and delivered a beautiful baby boy last February, four days before her 37th birthday, she named him appropriately: Chance.
When she felt a lump in her breast six months after his birth, she dismissed it. Lots of mothers suffered from clogged mammary ducts during breastfeeding. She went to a doctor anyway, and sure enough, an ultrasound showed what appeared to be a blocked duct.“I never thought I would ever have a child,” Mendy says. “I prayed really, really hard for him. He was my chance.”
Five months passed. Then her primary care physician ordered a mammogram.
When the results came in, they wouldn’t let Mendy leave the doctor’s office until she scheduled a biopsy.
She had Stage III breast cancer.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we celebrate Mendy Bowen, one of our franchise owners. Despite her cancer diagnosis, she continues to run her Planet Beach franchise while juggling motherhood and radiation treatments.
After her diagnosis, Mendy devoted herself full-time to her treatment. She underwent a lumpectomy and 18 weeks of chemotherapy. She had an emergency surgery due to a post-operation infection. Some weeks, she couldn’t get out of bed. Her staff had to handle all of the franchise’s operations during the tough moments.
“I gave it all to God,” Mendy says. “I knew there was only so much I could do. If there’s one thing this experience has taught me is to worry about the things I can, and let go of the things I can’t control.”
She says she wouldn’t have managed without her family’s support. “My family would come down from New Orleans and Texas for a week at a time,” she says. “It was their support that helped me get to where I am now.”
Mendy came to Planet Beach after working 13 years in banking. A love for the beach and the desire to be closer to her best friend, Arianne, brought her to Fort Myers, Fla. in 1996. She was looking for a change and decided she wanted to start her own business.
When her younger sister, Alex, a spa director at Planet Beach Uptown in New Orleans, introduced her to the automated spa concept, Mendy said she knew she had found her next career. She opened her Planet Beach franchise in 2007.
Today, Mendy’s daily schedule looks a lot different now than it did a year ago.
Every morning, she takes Chance to school by 8:45 a.m., then works at Planet Beach until her radiation treatment at 1 p.m. Afterwards, she either returns to the automated spa by 2 p.m. or works from her home office.
She picks up Chance by 5 p.m., then begins their evening routine — Chance’s bath, dinner and bedtime by 7:30 p.m. Then, in the quiet, she takes care of paperwork for Planet Beach.
With only five weeks of radiation left, Mendy is slowly easing back into her rhythm. She’s focusing on increasing her store’s memberships — numbers dipped during her surgeries and chemotherapy — and spending time with her son, now 19 months old.
“The way I see it, I’m at an advantage. I know what it’s like to struggle, to have a hard time. So even an ‘OK time’ is fabulous to me,” she says. “Having a positive attitude no matter what—that’s the only way to look at something like this. When your medical bills are thousands of dollars, there’s nothing to do but get your butt out of bed. Everything else will work out.”
Mendy is running a special at her Ft. Myers location in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Any woman who brings proof of a mammogram in October will receive a complimentary day at the automated spa.