Pinktober How treatment affects you
Retailers – how can you help those living with and beyond cancer?
Pinktober is upon us once again. But aside from raising awareness what exactly does Breast
Cancer Awareness Month do to help people understand cancer? In part 1 Jennifer talks
about how cancer treatments can affect a person.
‘Pinktober’ is upon us, the season of pink loaves, pink skincare and pink, pink, pink. Pink
must bring people into shops to buy. Call me cynical but otherwise why would brands do it?
It’s great for the manufacturer but, as a retailer, you are the ‘coalface’ (I was tempted to
write pink face) & you might need help to help those affected by cancer.
- When a magazine asked me for help to help the retailers, it made me think about how nonspecialist
retailers are in at the deep end – here is the q&a that I had with the magazine.
When a person undergoes cancer treatment, can you describe what their body goes
through? What typically happens to their: a) hair and b) skin when undergoing cancer
The body goes through a lot when undergoing treatment for cancer. The various
treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, hormone therapy) all have their own
appearance related side-effects. Chemotherapy drugs target fast replicating cells as most tumours grow quickly. The cells of the hair, the skin, nails, digestive tract and lips are also fast replicating. Most chemotherapy
drugs don’t discriminate and so these call types are attacked too. Hair can fall out; radiation can also cause localized hair loss. Skin often becomes dry, sore, sensitive, itchy and flaky. Radiation damage to the skin can resemble bad sunburn or redness. The skin is sore and sensitive. Nails become fragile, flake,ridged and can fall out.
- What about their mental health and their overall sense of themselves?
Cancer patients often lose their sense of identity when diagnosed, they become the cancer
patients & cancer is the only thing that anyone talks to them about. Some friends will no
longer be friends as the friends find it difficult to deal with the diagnosis.
Confidence can suffer, bodies change, and it can be difficult to dress the changed body. Some
people find it even more challenging to face the world without their hair. If nothing else, to
go out ‘looking like a cancer patient’ means an open declaration of medical history to the
world. Many decide not to socialize or pop to the supermarket, even though they feel well enough
physically. The challenges can be more psychological.
- Are there any parts of the body that people might not know are affected by cancer
treatments? (e.g. hands, eyes, nails)
Yes. Most of us have an expectation that cancer treatment results in hair loss. We don’t
realize that hair loss is total, eyebrows and eyelashes can also be lost.
Chemotherapy sometimes results in nail damage and discoloration of the nail bed. The
palms of the hands and the soles of the feet can become very sore. The skin can crack and
peel. In the worst cases walking or using the hands can be painful.