Beauty Professional Finds Passion in Helping Clients with Cancer

By Becky Kuehn, Cosmetologist, LE and founder of Oncology Spa Solutions

Diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer at the age of 18 set me on a path of discovery (not one I would have chosen), learning about and experiencing cancer first hand.

I found out about cancer, cancer treatment and what being a patient is like.

I was a newlywed and thought I had my whole life ahead of me. I was looking forward to married life, children someday and a bright future. But, in the moment I received the phone call from my doctor telling me "you have cancer," my future started to erase like the picture in the Back to the Future movie which was popular then.

My childhood dream was to be a wife, a mother and a hairstylist and at that moment it looked as though that was not to be. So, scared but determined (with my new husband in tow) I went to the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle to find out my future. The doctor told me that I was the only person my age he knew of with this type of cancer, in fact only one other case in the US and the patient was 42 years old.

So, I started with diagnostic surgery, endless needles and blood draws, then on to chemotherapy and all the side effects that came with that. I experienced hair loss (not complete loss – I was fortunate), mucositis (mouth and gastrointestinal sores), high fevers, anxiety and sleepless nights.

I would lay awake worrying about things like: What just happened to my future? How will I tell my new husband that I won't be there for old age with him? How can I ever tell my parents that they will lose their only daughter? Can you imagine? No, only if you have been through it would you know what those days were like.

I can write about this now because fortunately for me, I have had 36 years of being cancer free and lots of time to think about the experience and how I could use it to help others.

I currently work as a licensed esthetician and cosmetologist helping cancer patients in local hospitals. I also teach, mentor and coach other stylists, estheticians and spa professionals on oncology education.

Last week one of the patients came in for their appointment and walked straight up to me and got right in my face. We looked at each other for a moment as I was waiting for her to say what she was thinking.

She said to me: "Becky, do you know how important what you do is?" I answered," I think so, but please tell me." She went on to tell me that she had "been in a funk" for the last two weeks. Not wanting to get out of bed, do anything or even live.

But, she said, "When I woke up this morning and remembered that I had an appointment with you, I got up, got dressed and could not wait to be here. You made my day. That is how important what you do is." That is why I do what I do.

Hair Stylist's Oncology Training Workshop

The Hair Stylist's Workshop was created to empower stylists and enable them to work with their clients' throughout the cancer experience. It was important to address the fear of harm that some stylists had and to impart important knowledge so they could confidently care for their clients without worry. This is a time when the client is quite fragile emotionally and really needs us to be there to help walk through all the upcoming hair, skin and nail changes.

The workshop will cover the basics of cancer and cancer treatment and explains the why (why it changes the hair, skin and nails) and the how (how to safely treat/help without harm) and the when (when do you re-introduce salon treatments like color, perms, cutting, etc.).

The next workshop will be held in Concord, California on February 4, 2015. The cost is $150 for four hours of training. Additional workshops will be held in Seattle, Washington on January 12, 2015; Dallas, Texas, February 25, 2015; Islandia, New York, April 29, 2015; Boynton Beach, Florida on June 10, 2015 and Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 15, 2015. For more details or to register please contact Becky@OSS-US.com 253.405.5810 or visit www.oss-us.com.