Some of you may know that I’m certified in Oncology Esthetics. Some people have seen the heading on my website or have seen my separate business cards featuring this service. Most of you probably don’t know what Oncology Esthetics is but I have to tell you, it’s the most rewarding work I’ve done in my 20 year career as an esthetician.
About five and a half years ago I became friends with a beautiful woman who was in remission from AML, a very aggressive form of leukemia. She had developed dark spots all over her face and body – it was a side effect from her stem cell transplants called graft vs host disease. She sought me out to help her with camouflage makeup. I color matched her and showed her how to apply it and she was thrilled. We were both mothers. My youngest was 5 at the time and her little girl was just 2. We had a lot in common and became fast friends. We emailed and talked on the phone a lot and visited when we could. She encouraged me to help other women like herself; women who had cancer and didn’t feel beautiful anymore because of the awful side effects of treatments like chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplants. I listened to her and I trained to be Look Good Feel Better facilitator. The LGFB program is one of American Cancer Society’s programs where licensed professionals like me teach groups of women being treated for cancer how to take care of their skin, do their makeup and choose wigs and head wraps if they’ve lost their hair. I learned a lot in my training but knew there was so much to learn. Around the same time, an amazing book came out which was a guide for estheticians about Oncology Esthetics. I devoured the book and then learned that the author had just started teaching live classes so I signed up and went to Phoenix where I spent three long and intense days learning about different types of cancers, treatments, medications, and side effects pertaining to the skin. I learned how to tailor and modify my skin care treatments so they would be safe and helpful for people living with cancer.
Unfortunately, my girlfriend didn’t make it. Her cancer came back later that year and she passed away a week before her daughter turned 3. She taught me how to talk to people with cancer. How to listen, accept them where they are at, even if they know they aren’t going to win the battle. I knew her for barely a year but she changed my life forever.
The good news is that most cancers now are survivable. Five years later, I’m still teaching Look Good Feel Better classes at the Roy Disney Cancer Center almost every month and I’ve helped numerous people living with cancer through the power of touch. If you or someone you love is living with cancer, it is both safe and beneficial to receive facials as long as the estheticians is certified in Oncology Esthetics. I have an understanding about the many different treatments for cancer along with medications and how they affect the skin. I am trained in the ingredients to avoid and how to modify my treatments depending on whether lymph nodes have been removed or a port is still in place, etc.
I’m also very proud to be heading to Brazil on August 31st to give a presentation on Oncology Esthetics at the Beauty Fair Estetica in Sao Paulo. Apparently this is the second largest beauty show in the world and I will be speaking to estheticians, doctors and other professionals. Beauty Fair Estetica sought me out because of my extensive experience working with people living with cancer and I’m honored to have been invited to share my expertise.
If you know someone dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment, it would be my honor to pamper them and help them look and feel beautiful.