Staying up to date with cancer treatments
"Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as though you would be in fear of losing it." - Confucius
It's not often that you will hear us quoting Chinese philosophy, but when it comes to the value of education, ongoing learning and keeping an open mind - we're all for it.
As you know, everything we do at Jennifer Young is about using knowledge to give us the power to help people. For more than a decade as a company (and longer than that for Jennifer as an individual), we have made it our mission to give therapists access to the information they need and deserve in order to support their clients - notably during cancer treatment and now during hormonal change as well.
It's through curious minds and the dissemination of knowledge that, together, we are changing the spa industry from one that turns clients who are most in need of support away at the door, into one that offers meaningful care that supports quality of life.
The latest developments in cancer treatment
However, whether it's formal training or wider reading about cancer and supporting cancer patients, learning is an ongoing journey. Thankfully, the medical world's knowledge about cancer continues to evolve, with new treatments, new protocols and new breakthroughs emerging all the time.
One of the latest developments in cancer treatment came from research at the University of Birmingham in June, with research funded by Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre.
The university announced that they had identified a ‘cellular brake’, which could prevent lung cancer patients from developing a dangerous autoimmune response during immunotherapy treatment, called autoimmune toxicity.
"Immunotherapy works by enabling the body’s immune cells (T cells) to engage with and kill tumour cells. They do this by suppressing proteins called immune checkpoints. These exist to prevent an immune response from being so strong that it destroys healthy cells in the body.
Autoimmune toxicity, which includes conditions such as pneumonitis, or inflammation of the lungs, can affect lung cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy treatment. Pneumonitis is responsible for around 35% of treatment-related deaths in lung cancer patients.
Given the increasing use of immunotherapy treatment against cancer, the management of these reactions has become a significant healthcare challenge. Most commonly, clinicians will recommend discontinuing the treatment and exploring other options."
Researchers found that amongst patients who develop autoimmune toxicity, a protein which would normally limit the activity of the T cells, is missing or not functioning properly. As a result, they may be able to identify high risk patients.
Lead author, Dr. Akshay Patel, said:
“Immunotherapy is an extremely important weapon in cancer treatment and so identifying people who are at particular risk of developing these potentially life-threatening autoimmune conditions is key to weighing the risks and benefits of different treatments. It would enable clinicians to closely monitor high-risk patients, develop preventative strategies, or pursue alternative treatments altogether.”
Why it’s important for therapists to keep learning about cancer
With Jennifer Young oncology touch therapies, we do focus on treatments including the movements and products that can be used and adapted for individuals. However, we also include key components on the biology of cancer and cancer treatments.
Part of this is so you understand how and why our treatments work the way they do, helping you to adapt for individual clients and their needs going forward. Part of it however, is also so that you have an idea of what your client might be experiencing during their cancer treatment. There is so much jargon thrown around during cancer treatment; cancer patients find they learn a whole new language. If we, as therapists, can be one person that they don't have to explain things to, that can be a huge part of helping them to relax and know that they're in safe hands.
Susie is a particularly highly qualified therapist, with specialist knowledge of lymphoedema in post-operative patients. She has worked in the NHS and trained at the exclusive Földi Clinic in Germany. Last year, she took our Advanced Cancer Awareness Certificate with a view to updating her knowledge of cancer treatments. She then decided to also go back to basics and refresh her memory with the Cancer Awareness Level 1 Certificate as well. Her reasoning was simple - it's important to keep learning and refreshing your knowledge.
She said: "When someone has cancer treatment, they enter this whole new world of language and information, and when they come to you as someone who knows about oncology massage it’s important you know what they’re talking about so they can feel confident in your capabilities. Even though I’m a lymphoedema specialist, my learning when it comes to cancer can come to a halt if I don’t stay on top of it, because I’m in private practice. Cancer treatments are always changing, and they are so diverse. I did the advanced course, and then went back and did the Level One, which was a fantastic refresher. It was fascinating to learn more about things like the proton beam and immunotherapy, and it made me feel more comfortable about the specifics when it comes to the type of cancer that those treatments are used for."
We understand that with everything else therapists have to do with their time, it can be difficult to make space for regular training. However, we also know that as therapists we all want to do our best by our clients. For that reason, in addition to offering individual courses and course bundles, we created our Platinum Membership, which gives you unlimited, on-demand access to all 14 Jennifer Young Postgraduate Diplomas and educational materials.