In a time when cancer patients need the power of human touch the most, most shy away with the fear of making them worse. Becky Kuehn, founder of Oncology Spa Solutions, does the exact opposite. After being diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer when she was 18 and beating it, she knew she wanted to help other patients in the best way she knew how: skin. The major side effects of cancer are known, but many don’t realize the toll treatments and medications can take on the skin. Kuehn built her business with the mission to not only improve these skin conditions with esthetics, but to also emotionally connect with her clients in a way that goes deeper than treatments. Now she trains “spa angels” in hospitals and cancer centers around the U.S. Kuehn sat down with Skin Inc. to discuss the importance of compassion and educating fellow estheticians in oncology, so that no client is ever left untouched.
Skin Inc. (SI): What is your cancer story? How did that impact your career path?
Becky Kuehn (BK): At the age of 18, on my honeymoon, I ended up in the hospital bleeding out. The doctors did a diagnostic test and found out I had a rare form of uterine cancer. I was sent to the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, Washington, and the doctor told me I would be looking at about 10 years of treatment or a hysterectomy, which would mean no kids. I was just married and I wanted children. I was a believer and ended up praying about it. I went through chemotherapy and eventually went into remission. My scan that previously had many holes, now was spotless. I had a brand new uterus and three children. I carry that experience with me and it made me realize that my path in life was to work with cancer patients.
SI: How did you get started in this industry?
BK: I grew up always knowing that I wanted to do something in this industry. Back in 1982, they only had cosmetology. So, I went to beauty school and during that time, I was diagnosed with cancer and that changed my future and the way I thought about everything. After beating that, I got another chance. I started in hair salons and did hair and skin for 11 years. That gave me a good opportunity to find out what I actually liked, and I was drawn to the skin. From there, I applied for a job with Estee Lauder as a traveling makeup artist. I then started working at Nordstrom in the cosmetic department, and it gave me the opportunity to work in the industry. When you are in retail, you are married to your job, so I walked away and moved back to Seattle. I decided to go back to esthetics school and get my degree. I finished and graduated in 2009, and I went right into my own treatment room and built a pretty incredible business that I loved. I was there for a year before my brain said, “Hey wait, remember what you said that you were going to do with your life?”