What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when performing services for clients with cancer?
Morag Currin, president of Oncology Training International (OTI): Spa pros must remember to be mindful if they have to refuse a service, and they should explain why in clear terms. A blunt refusal with no explanation can be humiliating to a client looking to be treated as a normal person who’s temporarily not well. Pros must also refrain from doing too much during active treatment and too soon post-treatment.
Each client should be assessed with comprehensive intake forms and receive a service customized to them. Spas can’t use one protocol for 10 people when they may have different needs. All cancer survivors can have different physical and emotional responses. The spa can offer modified services, provided the therapists know what they’re working with as far as side effects go, because some treatments can be contraindicated or require extreme caution. Remember that a lack of knowledge and/or ignorance can cause further harm to the client.
Becky Kuehn, master esthetician and cosmetologist, founder of Oncology Spa Solutions: The easy answer is individualized care and remembering that they’re human beings. It’s important to treat them as normal people and not as cancer.
The more in-depth answer is that pros must have an understanding of cancer, the medications that are used, the contraindications and the side effects. Those are the topics they’ll learn when they take an advanced class in oncology. One of the most common conditions that causes side effects to be aware of is lymph node dissection or radiation: Both put the client at risk for lymphedema. The therapist should find out if the client has had any nodes removed or radiated; if they have, then an oncology-trained person will know how to customize the service so that it’s safe and doesn’t risk triggering lymphedema. “People with cancer come to spas for relaxation, symptom relief and appearance recovery.”