In view of the improving advancement in medical science and treatment, having a cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence in today’s world. On top of that, with the help of preventive measures like health screening, early detection of cancers have indeed helped improve survival rates.
More patients are continuing to live quality and meaningful lives after their treatment is over. The combination of different drugs administered during cancer treatment often alters the physical appearance in a negative way which can be very difficult for patients to come to terms with. Feeling good about the way they look plays a vital role in the mindful recovery and rehabilitation in the journey back into normal life.
As an aesthetic doctor providing this service, I feel the most important quality that I have is that I am a cancer survivor. Having completed both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I have experienced first hand the challenges that come with it. I fully understand the physical and psychological needs that commonly occur to the skin as well as the importance of providing a “safe” space – safe in terms of the frequently sanitised physical environment which is important for immune compromised patients, and comfortable in a place that patients can feel at ease about their condition.
When cancer treatment is given, one’s skin goes through a lot of stress and becomes more sensitive. Inflammation, redness, irritation, acne and dryness are some of the many symptoms that a cancer patient can experience in addition to the devastating hair loss side effect. Meticulous and careful assessment of a patient’s skin before recommendation of any treatment is vital. But it is a fact that our skin often needs to be prepped and optimised in order to react well to future treatments.
The ultimate aim of aesthetic treatment is to rebuild and restore the barrier function of the skin to promote the growth of new healthy skin cells in recovery. Of course, the psychological part of the treatment is to have someone share part of the difficult and long journey ahead with you, to rebuild that confidence that may have been lost in the midst of your cancer treatment.
In some cases, communicating with our panel of preferred oncologists is necessary to ensure that the treatment provided does not clash with any existing cancer treatment that a patient may be undergoing. The timing of when a person can start aesthetic treatment whilst undergoing oncology treatment is also taken into consideration in our recommendations to our patients. If needed, modifications are made to keep the patient safe and comfortable.
We have created a dedicated room paying special attention to cleanliness and hygiene as we know how important it is to remain infection free due to the low immunity status during this critical period, and especially during these COVID-19 times. We use mostly disposable items, and those reusable ones are sterilised after each patient’s use. The surfaces and bed are wiped down after each use and our staff ensures that patients are protected from any cross-infection throughout the treatment.
As this dedicated room is meant to be a place of relaxation and tranquility, we added soothing music as well as specially selected essential oils to calm the senses.
Reflecting back, I knew that my dry and sensitive skin was going to deteriorate during my cancer treatment and so I made changes to my skincare regime to ensure that my skin was well taken care of. I focused on skin hydration and making sure that I used products that were mild and gentle. One of the first aesthetic treatments that I chose to do after completing my main cancer treatment was actually laser hair removal because I had started growing a lot of unwanted facial hair about two months after completing my chemotherapy!
This part will be categorised based on the skin concerns that would have arose as a result of the treatment:
Intimacy after Cancer Treatment
Looking back, I see the experience I have gone through with cancer as a blessing in disguise. I now live everyday with greater tenacity and joy. I am very lucky to have discovered my condition at an early enough stage and been given a second chance at life which I am so thankful for. Read more about early detection and screening for cancer.
The journey for any cancer patient is a difficult one. I hope to be of service to those who may need some assistance in improving their confidence in their road to recovery. We are not cancer patients. We are cancer survivors.
Lets celebrate life after cancer!
Dr Wenus Ho is a family physician and a designated workplace doctor with more than a decade of clinical experience. She is also currently a postgraduate tutor for the Graduate Diploma of Family Medicine (GDFM) Training Program in the Yong Yoo Lin School of Medicine, Singapore....
After graduating from Guys’, King’s and St Thomas’ School of Medicine in the United Kingdom, Dr Juliana went on to complete her Graduate Diploma in Family medicine at the National University of Singapore. She is currently pursuing her diploma in Occupational Medicine. Dr Juliana applies her...
Dr Yong graduated from University College London, United Kingdom, with a Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery with distinction in medical sciences. She has more than 10 years of experience as a general practitioner, and was accredited as family physician by the Family Physician Accreditation...
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