A breast cancer diagnosis is emotionally and physically difficult for patients. Beyond getting through the initial treatment, which can present many challenges, most patients experience side effects that are often short and long term.
The side effects to the skin from radiation, for example, are important for patients to be aware of. Radiation can cause the treated skin to be rough to the touch, red, swollen and itchy. Sometimes the skin may peel, as if sunburned. Your doctor may suggest special creams to ease this discomfort until it heals.
Sometimes people who are in cancer treatment or beyond treatment may decide to get spa services. It’s important for aestheticians to know about the side effects of cancer treatment so they are able to take appropriate precautions and make necessary adjustments to spa services to ensure patient safety.
Working with our partners at Natura Bissé and the Ricardo Fisas Natura Bissé Foundation, Komen has been able to provide information and training to aestheticians so they can better understand the breast cancer experience and support their guests in a compassionate way. The training includes communication techniques for aestheticians so they can speak to their guests in an understanding and empathetic way and support them in whatever they may be going through at the time. The training is also helping aestheticians understand and navigate the physical side effects of the treatment, with a special focus on side effects that affect the skin.
As Kristen Kammeraad, a breast cancer survivor and Natura Bisse Licensed Aesthetician, shared, “Finding the cures for breast cancer is a cause near and dear to my heart for many reasons, especially since I have first-hand experienced the negative effects of cancer treatment on my skin..”
The About Breast Cancer section of Komen’s website provides more in-depth information about managing side effects & supportive care. Educational resources on topics from risk to support are also available. If you will have surgery or radiation, Komen has Questions to Ask Your Doctor cards that can be downloaded and printed to start a conversation with your doctor. Visit komen.org to learn more.
*Brown is the Sr. Director of Education & Patient Support for Susan G. Komen