Home' Spa and Clinic : SPA Vol-66 July 2016 Contents ONCOLOGY AESTHETICS
or cancer patients, one of the most
important coping mechanisms they
have is living life as normally as
possible, and that includes continuing to
have aesthetics treatments.
These can also be a powerful panacea –
the opportunity to be pampered, to revive
skin that has suffered from aggressive
therapies and drugs, and lift the spirits
and self esteem.
Several years ago I went for a spa treat
with a friend who was in remission from
breast cancer. K ate loved nothing more
than massages and other hands-on beauty
treatments, like facials.
So you can imagine her disappointment
- to put it mildly - when the girl at reception
looked at the forms we had both filled out
and told Kate she would not be able to have
massage because of her cancer diagnosis;
that she could have a mani-pedi instead.
Kate said, no, “I want a massage. I take
full responsibility for my choice”. No,
I’m sorr y, said the girl and called out the
therapist to back her up.
We both left, as K ate became very upset.
She later said it made her feel like a pariah.
I’m not blaming those girls for a second.
They probably didn’t know what they
could and couldn’t do for a cancer patient
and didn’t want to take the risk for fear
of causing Kate harm, losing their jobs or
getting the spa into any kind of trouble.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” says
oncology aesthetics expert, Canadian
Morag Currin, founder of Oncology
Training International (OTI), which
offers the Oncology Aesthetics Foundation
Training (available in Australia and
“A clinical study underway in Italy is
showing an improved quality of life [for
people having aesthetics treatments during
their recover y or while in remission];
improved levels of depression and anxiety.
This study uses combined expertise of
psychologists and beauticians, and has been
underway for three years. Documented
evidence is powerful!
“However, while psychologically it can be
devastating, even humiliating, to the person
refused, sometimes it is safer for that person
NOT to have a ser vice with a therapist who
has no clue about treating them.”
Given that cancer statistics in Australia
currently indicate that one in two men and
one in three women will be diagnosed with
cancer in their lifetime, the odds of you, a
team member or colleague being put in this
position is quite high.
If not trained in oncology aesthetics/
massage, what do you do?
First of all, you must be prepared to
deal with the situation compassionately
and diplomatically if you choose not
to prov ide ser v ices to clients either in
treatment or in remission.
“Psychologically, put yourself in this
person’s shoes,” Morag says. “ What if you
become a cancer statistic? What if having
your monthly facial is your favourite thing in
the world? What if all the person is asking for
is relaxation and a safe place to be to relax?
“The therapist can do one of two things.
They can educate the client about possible
negative effects since they are not trained to
work with this disease and its treatment, and
suggest an alternative safer option (though
what is safer with no knowledge?).
“Use initiative and have the client guide
them on modifications. Some clients will
sign off that they are responsible for any
possible negative outcomes.
“But this can instill fear in the therapist,
as they may be ner vous. The energy they then
exert to the treatment will not be the greatest.”
If you do choose to embrace offering
services to clients with or who’ve had cancer
but you don’t have specialist training, make
sure you and/or your therapists consider
this all-important question: “Can we cause
harm if we don’t modify our skin and/
or body care ser v ices for those clients’
individual needs? ”.
“The focus when working with people
living with cancer should be sy mptom relief,
relaxation and safe modifications to serv ices
of the clients choice - UNLESS there are
actual contraindications,” says Morag.
Some factors to consider:
• Fatigue and nausea can be aggravated by
As many as one in three Australians will
experience cancer in their lifetime. The
aesthetics industry cannot afford to neglect
the needs of this important but often
neglected demographic. By Jenni Gilbert.
46 | SPA+CLINIC
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