How important are cancer support charities to cancer patients?

business insights & tips spa & salon industry news Apr 01, 2021

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oncology massage training

While most of us are familiar with the big cancer charities, it’s really impossible to appreciate the enormous role those of all sizes play in supporting individuals following a cancer diagnosis. That support comes in so many different forms - from counselling to practical advice around issues like hair loss, skincare and access to safe and supportive complementary therapies.

Charities provide a pathway for many therapists to help care for cancer patients

All of the therapists we are ever introduced to have this inherent desire to show care, and it’s a common problem that if they work in an environment that hasn’t got the capacity to support cancer patients, this can cause a real crisis of conscience. For many of the therapists we work with, they are introduced to treating clients with cancer through volunteering at dedicated charities. Others have been inspired to become therapists or to take up extra therapist training in oncology massage following their own experiences with cancer and the benefits of touch. 

Therapist Jodi Holland, a.k.a. @the_skin_trainer, said of her own training: “I am post-cancer myself and I want to offer treatments and products that everyone can access, whether they’re pregnant women, teenagers or anyone with cancer. I want it to be about inclusive beauty, and importantly, to build people’s confidence. I know what it’s like when your skin looks sallow and how I felt using the Jennifer Young products.” 

She added: “while I was going through treatment, I was cold capping to help prevent hair loss. I was told that I couldn’t have scalp massage, which is probably one of the things you most want at that time.”

Anita Constable also said: “I have experienced cancer and benefitted from therapies from my local Aurora Wellbeing Centre, which gave me confidence before and after my mastectomy surgery in 2017. I wanted to share that wellbeing with others going through a similar thing.”

Giving cancer patients with the information they need to find support

It’s this knowledge that support is available in this way, as well as where find it, that’s so valuable. While those of us in the spa industry have campaigned for an increase in therapist training to give cancer patients access to safe spa treatments, letting clients know that the service is out there and where to find it is also fundamental to providing an element of relief through therapy. 
There is no doubt that the medical profession does an exemplary job of looking after all of us. The doctors are extraordinary, the nurses could not be more supportive and caring individuals. In the UK especially we are enormously lucky to have access to the NHS, and if we weren’t mindful of that before, we certainly are after the last 12 months.
However, anyone who has supported a loved one through an experience with cancer, or who has experienced cancer themselves, will know that there is much support needed beyond the medical environment. This is where the network of charities - large ones yes, but especially the smaller ones that operate within local communities - are so integral. 
Even the NHS is supported by its own national charity. In fact, there are 241 NHS charity members based at hospitals, mental health trusts, ambulance trusts, community health trusts and health boards across the UK. The NHS Christie Foundation is a case in point, and while their work extends into many areas, one element is complementary therapies. We discussed its use of aroma sticks only recently in our webinar on essential oils for those affected by cancer. 
We work with many charities, whether it’s providing products through Beauty Despite Cancer, delivering training to therapists or being part of discussions. The fundamental point is that they are instrumental in connecting therapists and clients with safe, nurturing treatments during and beyond cancer treatment. So, for therapists looking to do more to support cancer patients, we highly recommend looking into working with an appropriate local charity, and we are happy to make recommendations wherever we can.

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