I am a licensed aesthetician in the state of California and my first stepping-stone toward oncology skin care was during my mom’s cancer experience in 1994. I am also nationally certified in Manual Lymphatic Drainage, a touch modality used to treat clients with, or at risk for, lymphedema, which is a frequently occurring side effect of many cancer treatments. My career chose me. It was totally unanticipated and initiated by my mom’s cancer diagnosis. One constant theme that led me from one point to the next throughout my career is my mother’s advice. She told me to continuously mentor a replacement who can fill my role, so that I could move forward with new goals. She also told me that when you find something you love, make time to do the work, even it means not getting paid at first. I love what I do so much that work-related research is my hobby. I am in daily awe of the positive therapeutic benefit that skilled touch and appropriate product can have on the quality of life. My advice for someone planning a career in this industry is to start with an oncology foundation education program; that way, you will be prepared for oncology clients who happen into your treatment room.
Do you have a company or personal motto by which you live?
“My personal motto is that healing is not about fixing anything; it is about knowing you were born whole and being present with what is.“
Cancer statistics being what they are, this is an inevitability. The single most important thing that all skin care professionals should be well-informed about are the safety modifications for clients with cancer histories, particularly with breast cancer survivors. Specialized treatment protocols that I often incorporate address symptom relief for nausea, fatigue, and lymphedema, or risk thereof. I also have protocols for alopecia, which is hair loss, and neuropathy, a type of nerve damage, both of which occur with many cancer treatment medications. A primary misconception is that spa service modifications are only required for people currently in active cancer treatment; well-phrased verbal consultation skills are really important as many oncology clients, particularly those decades out of treatment, do not readily self-identify.