Here are some of the most common questions a professional might have when working with an oncology client and treating their skin.
WHAT SHOULD SKIN CARE PROFESSIONALS SAY TO A CLIENT THAT MENTIONS THEY HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH STAGE 4 CANCER AND ONLY HAS A FEW MONTHS LEFT TO LIVE?
Just for a moment, try putting yourself in that person's place: what would you do? How would you feel? What would you like people to say, comment, or ask? Next, understand that every person will view this type of diagnosis in a different way. Once you have thought on these questions for a few minutes for yourself, start asking the client questions so you can find out how they would respond. Never forget that the client is a person that has feelings, desires, goals, plans, and fears. The best question you can ask them is, "What would you like to do?" or "What would you like me to assist you with at this time in your life?" The answer might be: "Make me feel like me again." Or "I have always wanted to know what it would feel like to be a redhead." Some people are ready to go, will start putting things in order, and are at peace with it.
Others will be in "fight or flight" mode and will do everything in their means to survive. Knowing that there is no clear answer to this question, how do you proceed? The most important things you can are ask questions and listen to the answers; customize a special treatment just for them; and give them the best of you by offering all your attention, time, and care and being in the moment and present with them. Along with your touch, you will be the best gift.
HOW DO PROFESSIONALS HELP CLIENTS WITH CHEMOTHERAPY-RAVAGED SKIN?
Everyone deals with chemotherapy differently. Some clients have no issues at all; in fact, their skin is the best it has ever been. On the other hand, some clients experience the driest skin they have ever had, which is very common, or rashes or breakouts, which is usually medication-related, but is also linked to stress.
Skin care professionals should have a comprehensive intake form that gathers all the pertinent information for the client. As an oncology-trained professional, they can analyze the information and come up with a custom, safe treatment plan to specifically meet the client's needs.
Professionals should be properly trained so that they can learn how to customize a treatment for oncology clients or any client with compromised health. Professionals should know how to properly treat and care for each client that comes in for treatment. If not, the alternatives are the professional mistreats them (possibly harming them) or turns them away.
During the treatment, use a pure oil like sunflower, sesame, coconut, jojoba, along with a moisturizing product that contains hyaluronic acid. The goal is to hydrate and protect the barrier, allowing it to heal itself.
HOW DO PROFESSIONALS HELP CLIENTS THAT HAVE HAD RADIATION THERAPY AND ARE EXPERIENCING RADIATION DERMATITIS?
Again, this experience is different for each client. Some clients come through this therapy with nothing other than a slight pinking of the skin, while others end up with hyperpigmentation; an extremely compromised barrier; or a condition known as radiation dermatitis, which can look like a severe sunburn.
When dealing with a client that has had radiation therapy, ask the client what their doctor has asked them to use and if it is helping. After obtaining this information, analyze the data and determine the best treatment to help the client.
During treatment, use a pure, safe calendula oil or tamanu oil to care for this kind of skin condition, along with steps to help heal, care for, and return the barrier to health. Both oils have medical and clinical trials to support their efficacy.1,2
It is important to become oncology-trained and, luckily, there are various places that teach these classes. Be sure to do your research and choose a thorough hands-on training so that when you are done, you will understand all the issues related to the oncology client and be able to truly help them when they need you the most!
1 Calendula Effective Against Radiation-Induced Dermatitis in Breast Cancer - CancerConnect News : CancerConnect News. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://news.cancerconnect.com/calendula-effective-against-radiation-induced-dermatitis-in-breast-cancer/
2 Longyear, J. (n.d.). Tamanu: The Most Potent Skin Oil for Healing Acne Scars, Eczema and Sun Damage - Young and Raw. Retrieved from http://www.youngandraw.com/3-ways-tamanu-oil-can-heal-skin-problems-like-acne-eczema-and-sun-damage/