Welcome to the Avenue Aesthetics blog page!
It’s been a couple of weeks since the Oncology Aesthetics Foundation Training (OEFT) took place in Calgary, Alberta. It was a first in Calgary and in Alberta, so quite exciting for those of us in the industry, especially that the founder of the program, and international trainer, Morag Currin, was our guru!
What is significant about oncology esthetic training? It’s been around for about 8 years, beginning in South Africa, later expanding into Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the US and now Canada. It provides the information to advanced aestheticians to be able to safely provide facials, pedicures, manicures, cosmetic tattooing treatments and other related services to cancer patients and cancer survivors.
It is more than just about looking good, though. A lot more.
Clinical studies are currently being conducted at the San Rafaelle Hospital in Milan, Italy, to assess the value of touch therapies and services that can help female cancer patients who have been de-feminized by surgery and/or side effects of the chemotherapy and radiation treatments that have been administered to them as part of their cancer regimen. The studies are focused on the psycho-social side effects these patients suffer and the support they receive from treatments that help them to manage the unpleasant consequences of cancer surgery and medication, and aid them in recovering a sense of normalcy in their daily lives.
Treatments include, but are not limited to, aesthetic services for relaxation, skin therapies and treatments that support skin health, hair regrowth and follicle recovery, permanent make up/cosmetic tattooing to recreate eyebrows, eyeliner, and aereola/nipples following breast reconstruction. For almost every side effect that a cancer patient endures, there is a treatment that can mitigate damage at the outset and aid recovery, post-surgery.
Oncology aesthetics helps to bring many of these treatments, and the information on how or where to find them, together. In the hair industry there is more available to patients than wigs, scarves and turbans. Ever heard of cold-capping for chemo patients? It’s been in existence for a very long time – close to twenty years. Well, I just heard about it during my recent training. It is just what it sounds like – a very cold cap system, developed in the UK by a doctor, to help reduce the amount of hair loss suffered by patients undergoing chemo treatments – surely one of the most devastating side effects of this dreaded disease. You might just as well have a big neon sign that says ‘I have cancer’ hanging around your neck after you lose your hair. For many people, this is their greatest fear and the thing that hurts the most.
Hair loss is also a constant reminder to family and loved ones that the individual is sick and may die. Cold-capping reduces the scalp temperature to affect the hair follicles by putting them into a hibernation state. It causes vascular dilation of the capillaries that send blood-flow to the hair roots, effectively reducing the flow of chemotherapy drugs to the area as well, and in about 86% of cases, the patient is able to keep most of their hair. Brilliant! Why don’t people know about this?
At the conclusion of the Oncology Esthetics Foundation Training (OEFT) course we held a practicum during which we worked with five oncology patients at various stages of cancer, from just being diagnosed to being terminal. Of these five women, four have been through surgery and chemotherapy, three have had radiation, and the fourth was in the middle of a very aggressive chemo series – once a week for 16 weeks. This young woman was the youngest of the group, being in her late twenties. She was the one to tell us about the cold-capping system, having researched it on the internet and found the cap in the UK. She ordered it from there and wears it every time she undergoes chemotherapy.
At the practicum, she very happily took off her hat to show us the very full head of hair she still has. None of the other patients had even heard about it. Amazing! Alberta Health Care doesn’t cover the expense of it, but they should at least tell them about it! Some of the companies that rent the caps have options for others to sponsor cap rental for someone they love or who they know can’t afford it. There are even anonymous donors who sponsor caps for others! Isn’t this great?!
There are now clinical trials being conducted at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton that focus on various types of psychological, spiritual, emotional and physical therapies and support. One study recently completed there proved a mind/body connection at the cellular level in breast cancer patients who participated in a specific meditation/yoga support activity. Google the Cross Cancer Institute for more information about the different trials and studies taking place.
The Alberta Cancer Foundation has a 2015 Progress Home Page that reports on the developments that are and have been taking place because of the studies, and how cancer care is improving. Learn more by clicking here. Under the investment priorities tab on their home page you’ll find information about new, early screening processes, the Patient Financial Assistance Program, the clinical trials, the Biobank, and more.
I know I’ve digressed from where I started, but the oncology studies I was just a part of taught me how much more is happening today for those afflicted with cancer. What we can start to offer in our salon are more advanced treatments for all our clients – including those with cancer.
And for me, that’s exciting!