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Skin Care With Compassion

By: Teresa Paquin
Posted: June 9, 2008, from the December 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Editor’s note: Joanna Donovan is not a real name and was used to protect the identity of the individual.

When breast cancer survivor Joanna Donovan turned to her hairstylist of 10 years for expert advice and care after chemotherapy altered her hair and complexion, she never expected the service she received.

“Basically, she told me there wasn’t anything she could do for me,” says Donovan, a 45-year-old high school teacher from the Greater Boston area. Donovan believed that she had been treated very cruelly and with little compassion. Luckily, she did find another salon—one that not only made her feel better about her looks, but also, more importantly, restored a little of her faith in humanity. “They did wonders for my hair, and gave me all kinds of advice on my skin care and makeup. But, on a deeper level, they empathized with my situation in a personal way that truly touched me,” she says.

Although Donovan’s experience may be the exception to the norm, it brings to light the sensitivity required by those who work in the beauty industry when serving cancer patients. One of the most important things to remember when helping these clients during such a difficult time is simply to listen. Be compassionate about how they feel and what they are going through. It also is important to remain aware of what you say and how you interact with these clients, while remaining as professional as you can.

Make a difference

It is difficult to see your client battling this terrible disease. It claims people from all walks of life and all ages; it doesn’t discriminate. Most of us have known someone—a client, co-worker, friend or loved one—who has been touched in some way by this disease.