When I was young, I dreamed of helping people in some capacity. It changed from day to day; one day I’d pretend I was a doctor and the next day, I was a nurse, helping to care for my array of dolls, and when I could get them to play along, my little brothers. I didn’t know then that there were other ways to help people.
In high school, I decided I could become the person to help care for hair, skin, and nails, so I enrolled in cosmetology school. And then, fate kicked in. At age 18, one year out of high school and newly married, I was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer. My doctor told me there were only two cases he knew of in the United States and I was the youngest. He didn’t know how to treat my cancer, and evidentially, I was going to be an “experiment.” Yippee!
As I went through this journey: chemotherapy, veins collapsing, constantly feeling sick and feverish, and my hair coming out in handfuls, I was reminded of my childhood dream of helping people as a part of the medical world. I took notice, particularly of the nurses. They were all so kind and wonderful to me and my husband. It made me stop and rethink my career “life choice.” Should I go to nursing school? Or, is there some way I can use my current training to help in a deeper way?
I decided to stay in cosmetology school and finish what I started. I figured that I would find a way, when the time was right. One thing I’ve learned about life is that timing is everything.
Thankfully, I was healed (or cured, relieved, whatever-term-you-like) of cancer and I went on to live my life as a wife, became a mother of three, and I continued to help beautify the skin and hair of my clients.
One day, one of my clients mentioned a volunteer opportunity at a local hospital and suggested I check it out. It was for the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Look Good, Feel Better program. I inquired and the next thing you know, I was an ACS Look Good, Feel Better facilitator once a month during a two-hour class working with newly diagnosed cancer patents. My role was to help them recover a bit of themselves with dignity and an increased quality of life. You could say the rest is history because I fell in love with these ladies and their courage, strength, and heart. I couldn’t wait until the next class so I could meet more people and do it all again.
About a year later, I asked the local center manager if I could have a space in her location, somewhere she wasn’t using so we could create a larger space for continued care of these ladies. As most professionals in our industry know, you can’t “fix” skin (or spirits) in one visit. She said yes and the journey for what has become my life’s mission started. My mission is to have an oncology-trained spa professional available in every cancer center in the US.
Today, I am the founder of Oncology Spa Solutions, an organization I started in 2013, that teaches other spa professionals in the US how to help like I did in their own community. I now have over 4,500 grads of the Life Changing Esthetics program. I get emails, letters, and hugs from them as they share with me how the training changed their life and their business.
The class covers a basic understanding of what cancer is, how it is treated, and how those treatments impact our clients’ skin, hair, nails, and spirit. It also incorporates practical solutions for our professionals, so they know how to help clients, family members, or friends as they travel the cancer road.
Products and ingredients are very important for those with cancer and suppressed immune systems, so I reached out to several companies in our industry that have great products, and they have graciously jumped on board to support the mission. I call them “Mission Partners.”
I started with one little hospital room and a dream. The dream helped us grow to another location, then another, and we now have 22 locations in the U.S. where we have oncology-trained staff, independent contractors, and non-profits working with cancer patients. With over 15.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. today, and another 1.7 million new cases being diagnosed every year, we need more. Until we have more, I will continue to serve this underserved population and I hope to count on you, and others with the ability to help, to serve with me.
About LightStim, Mission Partner of Oncology Spa Solutions: In 2014, LightStim was approached by Oncology Spa Solutions founder Becky Kuehn to join her band of Mission Partners, a collection of beauty and wellness industry manufacturers dedicated to help further her passionate efforts of helping women affected by cancer recover from an illness that threatens their peace of mind, their livelihood, and their very identities. It’s an honor for LightStim to contribute to Becky’s mission by providing devices and education targeted at helping licensed and oncology trained professionals treat undesirable skin conditions that often occur as a result of cancer and cancer treatment, and it’s a privilege to play some small role in helping women get back to being who they’re meant to be.
To join the Oncology Spa Solutions team and to enroll in a training near you, visit www.oncologyspasolutions.com.