My Experience with Oncology Esthetics Training

Happy cancer survivor after successful chemotherapy.
Happy cancer survivor after successful chemotherapy.

I’m a person who gets chocked up watching commercials, but when it comes to real life tragedy, I’m usually pretty cool.  However, that wasn’t the case as I went through the oncology esthetics training over the weekend.

For 3 days my classmates and I learned the fundamentals of cancer, how it spreads and the treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.  I was assuming that a facial on an active cancer patient would involve a lighter touch, products for sensitive skin and a lot of nurturing and TLC.  I didn’t take into account all the modifications that need to be made when lymph nodes are removed – how to use your cleansing and massage strokes so that you don’t cause lymphedema.  Blood clots and how to use different touch pressures to ensure that you don’t hurt their already abused bodies even more.  There was so much more to it that I could have imagined!  I love the science aspects of esthetics, so I was soaking all the information up!  (Note: Taking on cancer clients must be done by an oncology trained esthetician, period!)

What I didn’t bargain for was the emotional side of it all.  We all knew that on the third day of training we would be giving facials to people who are actively undergoing cancer treatments.  Our instructor told us that if we felt too overwhelmed or emotional we could forego giving treatments.  In my head I was thinking, “Who the heck would want to back out!  That’s what we’re here for.”  The ever logical side of my personality was in full force.  Not to mention a little judgmental.

Well, the time came for us to meet our clients.  The consultation and treatment were preformed in pairs.  One was the therapist and the other was the assistant.  My partner and I met our client and probably one minute in I started to get very emotional!  I was fighting back tears!  Our client was so sweet that my heart swelled with love for this person.

As I was watching my partner give the facial, I was looking around the room and I almost completely lost my composure.  Most of the clients were relatively young and going through their worst nightmare both physically and psychologically.

I was extremely humbled to be in their presence.  It stripped down my ego to the point that I wasn’t caught up in the littleness of my life.  I was overcome with feelings of honor and privilege to be able to serve them. It was really quite overwhelming.

When it came my time to do my facial, it was slightly nerve wracking because I had to make so many modifications to the way I move in consideration to my client’s situation.

As I was using acupressure points, it gave me time to silently visualize my client perfect, whole and complete.  I saw my client’s body healed, healthy and vibrant.  Let me tell you, the feeling you get from this is indescribable!  It helped me as much as it helped my client!  I had a realization that this kind of work fit my skills to a tee!  I was able to be the esthetician and the spiritual practitioner in a perfect blend of service to another.  Fantastic!!

Now, I need to visualize for myself – to see me being able to help others; to be a respite and ease their mind, body and soul at least for an hour.  They deserve that and so much more!

If you know someone that is currently going through cancer treatments or has recently finished, please give them a give of love with a facial or a massage from a therapist that is oncology trained.  It’s a gift that goes beyond words.

In deep gratitude,

Chris Wagner

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