Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Different Ways Estheticians Can Help Cancer Patients July 23, 2012


I recently completed a three day intensive course about oncology esthetics through the organization Touch for Cancer; this organization is headed by Morag Currin who wrote the book Oncology Esthetics.  The class was run by a wonderful instructor named Becky who was knowledgable and helpful.  We were 13 estheticians with varying backgrounds, but everyone of us shared the desire to help people affected by cancer.  The class included an overview of all aspects of cancer and its treatment and then we, of course, learned and spoke extensively about how as estheticians we could treat cancer patients safely and effectively.  On the last day of class we had the opportunity to work with women who were in different stages of treatment and recovery from cancer.  It was, in all, an amazing experience.

The course was held at Faye’s Light which is a nonprofit spa for cancer patients.  Faye’s Light is wonderful – they have created a warm, comforting, caring, and calming atmosphere for cancer patients to receive spa services for free.  It was great to see that cancer patients had a place where they could come to relax and recharge during their treatment.

It turns out that there are many places like Faye’s Light all across the US where cancer patients can receive spa services during treatment.  In the latest issue of Day Spa Magazine I found out about Angie’s Spa which provides free spa services at few different hospitals.  A simple Google search lead me to other spas and in-home or in-hospital services for cancer patients all over the country.  (There is also an organization in the Los Angeles area called Beauty Bus Foundation that brings spa and hair services to men, women, and children who are home bound because of illness.  They also provide services to the caregivers.  How thoughtful to think of the caregivers as well.)

I’ve mentioned in my blog before how I volunteer for The American Cancer Society’s program Look Good…Feel Better which provides free skincare and make-up products to cancer patients along with a complimentary session during which a licensed esthetician or cosmetologist explains how to care for your skin during cancer treatment.  We also apply the make-up during the session, and generally try to create a caring and stress-free environment for the patients so that they can focus on something fun instead of their cancer for a short period of time.  If you are an esthetician who is looking for a way to volunteer your time I strongly encourage you to contact your local American Cancer Society office and inquire about how you can help with Look Good … Feel Better.

Why Spa Services During Cancer Treatment?

It is amazing how the simple act of touch can have a positive and healing effect on the human body.  When you are feeling physically and mentally depleted from fighting cancer taking the time to have a gentle spa service can have both positive spiritual and physical effects on the body.

Chemotherapy and radiation can cause numerous unpleasant and difficult side effects in the skin.  Skin can become very dry and sensitive due to chemotherapy.  Nails can become brittle, discolored, and even flake off.  Radiation can burn the skin and cause rashes.  (These are just a few of the skin side effects that cancer treatment can cause)  So if you can visit an esthetician who has been trained to treat patients undergoing cancer treatment you can receive help in coping with any skin conditions that may arise while receiving treatment for cancer.  During the same session you can also get advice about how to care for your skin at home while it is compromised from treatments.  There are many gentle and effective skincare products on the market that cancer patients can safely use during cancer treatment in order to help, not hurt, their skin.  The key is to receive advice from an esthetician who has the right training to help you.  Above all, if you are feeling well enough to receive a spa service while undergoing cancer treatment taking that time to allow someone else to care and pamper you will help you relax and hopefully feel better for a while.

I encourage my fellow estheticians who have an interest in helping cancer patients to pursue further education in this field.  This line of esthetics isn’t for everyone, but for those who feel that they are drawn to it will be greatly rewarded if they can pursue it.

If you know someone undergoing cancer treatment look into available spa services for them.  Make sure the people giving the services are trained in oncology esthetics or massage.  A lot of spa services for cancer patients are available free of charge or at reduced rates.



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8 Responses to “Different Ways Estheticians Can Help Cancer Patients”

  1. Thanks for the blog post. I was searching for spa’s that have done this and would love to do a once a week not for profit day at my place. Have you implemented any of the oncology esthetics techniques that you learned at the class? How much was the 3 day class?

    • Thanks for your comment. I moved at the end of August to another country so I am still trying to figure out how to put my new knowledge to use. I am hoping soon to have some volunteer opportunities with cancer patients. I actually can’t remember how much the class was. I would check with the Touch for Cancer for dates and prices.
      It sounds like a wonderful idea to have a not for profit day at your spa. Bravo and good luck!

  2. For more information about the oncology esthetics class I took feel free to contact my wonderful instructor Becky at:

  3. Dorine hunter Says:

    I am a esthecian and would like to volunteer my service to give back if you know of a program in Sacramento ca please contact me

  4. Thanks so much for your great blog! I have been an esthetician for 13 years and have been thinking about taking the Touch for Cancer Oncology Esthetics Course you attended. My question is, is this a product driven program? I am restricted in my use of products (we are an Aveda Concept Salon) and am wondering if it is possible to adapt treatments with what I have to work with. Any information and feed back on the class would be much appreciated. Thank you. Judy Watson

    • Thank you for your question. When I did the Touch for Cancer course nearly two years ago we were given Tecniche products to try for ourselves and to use during the hands on part of the course. (I found the products to be excellent, by the way). We discussed product ingredients in general as well. Though the course encouraged the use of Tecniche and/or another organic, paraben free (of course) skincare brand when working on cancer patients, obviously you can reach your own conclusions about which products work best for you and your clients and do whatever you want when practicing on your own. As I already mentioned I did the course almost two years ago so if the issue of products is very important to you you might want to address these questions to someone at Touch for Cancer before signing up for the course. Good luck!

  5. […] My last post about oncology esthetics was about how estheticians can help cancer patients.  In an even earlier post I shared skincare tips for cancer patients.   In this post I am privileged to share skincare tips for cancer patients that Dr. Ava Shamban shared with me.  Dr. Shamban is a Beverly Hills dermatologist and the creator of the skincare line SkinxFive.  She’s also the author of one of my favorite books about skincare called Heal Your Skin which includes a chapter all about caring for your skin during cancer treatment. You can read my review of her book here. […]

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