Thinking Pink

While spa services leave people feeling relaxed, renewed, and refreshed, imagine the effects a spa visit can have on a person who is undergoing cancer treatments. These days, a cancer verdict is not necessarily a death sentence, but there is still pain, anxiety, and mental stress that accompanies the diagnosis. While chemotherapy and radiation are crucial in prolonging life, they can also cause physical side effects, such as rashes, red skin, excessive dryness, and brittle nails, along with fatigue and anxiety. There are an estimated 10.7 million cancer survivors in the U.S., 2.5 million of whom are breast cancer survivors. That's a lot of people who may need specific care, and many spas are now developing programs and services to fulfill that need. According to a report from the International Spa Association (ISPA), cancer survivors are interested in alternative and complementary medicine, and thus spas and their treatments.

Monthly Special

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to develop programming to raise awareness and possibly money through events and promotions. During October, The Spa at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, Santa Barbara (CA) will offer Pretty in Pink! massages and will donate 10 percent of the fees to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Aquae Sulis Spa at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa will offer a Think Pink Cherry and Nutmeg manicure for two months, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.

Red Mountain Spa (Ivins, UT) will offer its annual half-day Breast Cancer Spirit Hike to Lion's Mouth, during which participants offer prayers for both victims and survivors of the disease. "Destination spas, with their focus on fitness and wellness, are a perfect fit for cancer survivors," says general manager Tracey Welsh. "We've had more and more guests telling us they were visiting Red Mountain to celebrate their survival and embark on a healthier lifestyle, seeking information on alternative and complementary therapies, with the awareness that having cancer has given them."

This year, Red Mountain has also teamed up with a local hospital to offer a Survivor Spa Tapas Party. Survivors and their families are invited to the event, which will feature mini-readings from a shaman healer, chair massages, neck massages, henna painting, and a lecture on nutrition and prevention from a nurse practitioner.

Ongoing Services

Though October is an ideal month to offer such promotions, they can be effective year-round. On the last Tuesday of every month, SK Sanctuary (La Jolla, CA) closes to the public at 4 P.M. and hosts an event featuring complimentary 30-minute spa services, wine and snacks, and an inspirational speaker for a few dozen cancer patients and survivors. Founded and operated by Stephen Krant, M.D., a reconstructive plastic surgeon, and his wife, Lyn, SK Sanctuary also caters to the pre- and post-operative needs of Krant's breast- and skin-cancer patients, with a select team of therapists.

Chicago's Thousand Waves Spa for Women offers a Stress Management Program for Women with Cancer, providing patients and survivors with five free visits to the spa and five free 60-minute treatments, as approved by the patient's physician. Sundara Spa (Wisconsin Dells, WI), in conjunction with Breast Cancer Recovery, has been sponsoring regular programs since 2005 called Infinite Boundaries. Geared toward women with metastatic cancer, these retreats feature discussions on the challenges of a breast cancer diagnosis; creative arts and physical movement; and journaling, meditation, and guided imagery instruction. Breast Cancer Recovery charges a reduced fee and even offers scholarships so that no woman ever has to be turned away.

Another example of a spa working with an existing group is the Greet The Day (GTD) program at Spa Gregorie's (Newport Beach, CA). Already working with nine Orange County cancer treatment centers, GTD not only strives to improve quality of life through bodywork for people in cancer treatment, recovery, and palliative care but it also provides accredited oncology massage training. "Spa Gregorie's is a very generous corporate partner and sponsor, and their financial support has been invaluable," says GTD co-founder Johnnette du Rand. Since the program's inception, GTD has been granted a portion of funds raised by Spa Gregorie's annual cancer fundraising campaign, and for the last two years, the staff has participated in a payroll donation program, where individuals can opt to automatically contribute from every paycheck.

Hospitals and Spa Services

One of the trends in medicine today is making the hospital experience less clinical with thoughtful hospital room design, trained customer service staff, and soothing amenities. Being diagnosed with cancer can make a patient feel especially aware of a loss of control over his or her own body, and this can cause some patients to become very involved in their own care and in exploring alternative and complementary options, including acupuncture, massage, yoga and guided imagery. Increasing numbers of hospitals and cancer-treatment centers are now offering these services and more, either within the hospital for in-patient care, or in dedicated space on the hospital campus for both patients and their families and caregivers.

The Bendheim Integrative Medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City offers a variety of services, such as yoga, massage, acupuncture, and hypnosis in a dedicated building. MSKCC in-patients can receive many of these services free of charge, but the center is open to the public regardless of hospital affiliation. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has two locations within the campus for its Place of Wellness, which offers acupuncture, massage, and classes on herbs, nutrition, Reiki, tea, and more. These facilities make it easy for patients who are undergoing cancer treatments to centralize their care, optimize their outcomes, and develop a comfort level with the professionalism and training of the practitioners. While they are not full-fledged spas, they are evolving in that direction.

The Next Step

Among the newest spa and cancer treatment options are centers that are neither hospitals nor spas but may include elements of both. San Antonio's new START Center for Cancer Care is home to more than 20 physicians and offers imaging, radiation, and medical oncology treatments; an internationally renowned Phase 1 clinical drug trials program; a restaurant; and a wellness center.

The wellness center has 4,500 square feet of prime real estate on the ground floor and offers manipulative, biologic, energy, mind-body, and whole medicine therapies. "We want to focus on treatment modalities for which there is good evidence of benefit for cancer patients," says oncologist Amy Lang, M.D. "Everyone knows that cancer patients feel terrible a lot of the time, but people who can access complementary treatments, such as massage and acupuncture, can greatly enhance their quality of life."

The wellness center is designed with a soothing color palette and abundant natural light and combines consultation areas with treatment rooms, a quiet lounge, private changing rooms, and an outdoor Zen patio. It also features a large retail area with healthy nutrition and lifestyle products, botanically derived skin and body products, a wig- and prosthetic-fitting area, an organic tea bar, and a large multipurpose space that will be used for lectures and yoga, tai chi, and meditation classes. "START's decision to put a large wellness center and spa on the ground floor is reflective of our commitment to treating the whole person and not just cancer," says wellness center director Ginger Kemmy, R.N. "From the moment patients walk into our cancer center, START wants them to know that we understand that cancer is a challenging journey for the body, mind, and spirit, and we support them in every aspect. We believe that when patients feel better, they do better."

These developments are encouraging, as the worlds of spa, medicine, and complementary and alternative therapies continue to evolve. Before long, the consumer of the future may not have to choose between spas and doctors offices.

Lisa M. Starr has more than 28 years of experience in the beauty industry and is the senior east coast business consultant to new and existing spas and salons for Wynne Business. Email her at [email protected].


Spa and wellness companies around the globe are contributing to the cause in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond. BY NICOLE PALMIERI

Company: Darphin Paris
Product: Arovita C Energic Firming Cream
Charity: $20 from each sale will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Company: KaplanMD Skincare
Product: October Online Sales
Charity: 10 percent of proceeds from all online sales will be donated to three different charities, including Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Company: Sanítas Skincare
Product: PeptiDerm Eye Treatment
Charity: A portion of proceeds will be donated to Sense of Security.

Company: Circadia by Dr. Pugliese
Product: DreamSkin Pillowcase
Charity: A portion of proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Company: B. Kamins Chemist
Product: Essentials for Healthy Skin
Charity: A portion of proceeds will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Company: RevitaLash
Product: Eyelash Conditioner
Charity: A percentage of proceeds will be donated to various breast cancer initiatives.

Company: A La Turca Textiles
Product: Pink Robe and Cover-Up
Charity: 5 percent of proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer 3-Day 60-Mile Walk.

Company: Color Club
Product: Colors for the Cure
Charity: All proceeds will be donated to breast cancer research.

Company: Oakworks
Product: Comfort That Cares Bolsters
Charity: A portion of the proceeds will be donated to breast cancer research.

Company: Cybex
Event: Pink Ribbon Run Program
Charity: During October, Cybex will donate 10 cents for every mile logged on its Cybex 750T pink treadmill to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Company: OPI
Product: Pink of Hearts
Charity: $25,000 will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Company: Sundãri
Product: Perseverance, Commitment, and Resolve Gift Sets
Charity: 2 percent of the proceeds will go to the CEW Foundation's Cancer and Careers.

Company: Brush Up With Barbara/Mineral Mine
Product: Complimentary Pink Ribbon Logo
Charity: The company is offering spas a complimentary pink ribbon logo on all products ordered if they are donating a portion of proceeds to benefit breast cancer awareness.

Company: Éminence Organic Skin Care
Product: Sweet Red Rose Whip Moisturizer
Charity: $5 from each sale will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Breast Cancer Foundation.

Company: Dermalogica
Event: Pink-Link Fundraiser
Charity: Dermalogica held a fundraiser that raised more than $10,000 to benefit Pink-Link.

Company: National Cosmetology Association (NCA)
Event: Dining For Change Event
Charity: NCA is asking spas and salons to host their own Dining For Change event to help make a difference in the lives of those impacted by cancer and domestic violence.

Company: DermaQuest
Product: Glyco Hand and Body
Charity: A percentage of proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Company: Jane Iredale
Product: In the Pink PureGloss for Lips and Christina PureMoist LipColour
Charity: A percentage of proceeds will be donated to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Company: Ultronics
Product: Pink Bowls
Charity: 10 percent of proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Company: Amber Products
Product: Pink Ribbon Paraffin
Charity: 20 percent of proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Stand Up To Cancer.

Company: GlyMed Plus
Product: Professional Only Products
Charity: Products will be donated to breast cancer survivors through the Women Beyond Cancer organization.

Company: Aveda
Product: Hand Relief
Charity: $4 from each sale will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Company: Pevonia Botanica
Product: Restore Neck & Bust Concentrate and Cream
Charity: A portion of the proceeds of the sales will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Company: GlōProfessional
Product: GlōMarvelous in Pink
Charity: A percentage of proceeds will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Company: Shortcuts Software
Product: Shortcuts Luvs Boobies Campaign
Charity: 5 cents for every dollar spent at Shortcuts in October will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Company: Universal Companies
Product: Pink Glove Project
Charity: A portion of proceeds from each sale will be donated to City of Hope.

Company: CA Botana
Product: Doctor D. Schwab Rescue Cream
Charity: Doctor D. Schwab Rescue Cream will be donated to cancer patients and hospitals worldwide.

Company: Pravana Naturceuticals
Product: Think Pink Set
Charity: 100 percent of proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Company: Image Skincare
Product: Ormedic Balancing Anti-Oxidant Serum
Charity: 5 percent of proceeds will be donated to Breast Cancer Action.

For more on the industry's BCA Month efforts, visit our blog at

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