Now, imagine that you have breast cancer, have had surgery to remove the cancer, had a mastectomy, and have lost your hair from chemotherapy treatments. Envision your skin being dry and looking five years older than when you started this journey. A glimpse in the mirror not only reminds you of cancer, but also that your face and body are hardly recognizable.
What do you do? Go to a spa and see an aesthetician? Make an appointment with a dermatologist and hope they understand your new skin care needs? This is a dilemma that 231,840 women will face annually. If they show up in your treatment room, how will you help?
Stop: Stop working on auto pilot and take the proper steps to learn what you need to know about caring for this client. Become oncology trained so you can understand their needs and know how to customize treatments for their safety and comfort.
Look: Utilize a CAT (consult, analyze, treat) Form.
- Consult – Know what questions to ask. When putting together a custom treatment plan specifically for this client, there are a few questions that you should ask: What type of cancer do you have? Have you had surgery? Have you had any lymph nodes removed, and if so, where? Are you on anti-cancer drug therapy or undergoing radiation therapy, and if so, what side effects are you experiencing?
- Analyze – Take a deeper look at the information and determine what needs to be done and with what modifications.
- Treatment Plan – Formally put the information together and then proceed.
Listen: More than likely, this client feels lost in the chaos of cancer and is not in control of their own life right now. As a result, being heard in the treatment room is very important. I had a client tell me that they had visited a spa and told the professional what part of the body not to touch (due to pain) and the therapist did not listen. Out of frustration, not pain, the client cried and never went back.
Love: Love what you do and love your clients. Helping the client battling breast cancer feel beautiful, loved, and cared for is what we can offer. There is powerful healing in touch. A client once told me that the one hour she spent with me was the most healing and beneficial since her diagnosis.
American Cancer Society - Cancer Facts & Figures Report for 2015
Becky Kuehn is the leading oncology educator in the United States and the current and founding president of the International Society of Oncology Estheticians and Allied Professionals (ISOEAP). She is the owner of Oncology Spa Solutions® and has been teaching the Oncology Esthetics-USA class to spa and medical professionals since 2011. She also created patient programs with two local hospitals in her area and provides advice and educational articles for newspapers and industry-leading magazines. She is an invited speaker for oncology esthetics at conventions all across the United States.