Big impact on external changes in cancer
Translated from the online publication: https://www.mijngezondheidsgids.nl/grote-impact-uiterlijke-veranderingen-kanker/
Many cancer patients experience changes in their appearance during and after their illness. Hair loss, weight loss and skin damage make them feel that they no longer recognize themselves in the mirror. Fortunately for them, there are many ways nowadays to restore the "old me". "Are you okay?" - it is a question that many cancer patients often get enough. When they don't think about their illness for a moment, they don't want to be constantly reminded of it by their own reflection or by people who think they look sick. Because although the changed appearance is of course only a small part of the entire disease process, it does have a major impact on how a patient feels and how others treat him or her. This is what Petra Odenthal of Look Good Feel Better, a foundation that provides tips and advice on external care for cancer. "The impact is often greater than anyone had previously thought."
"To help a cancer patient, or in post-cancer life, to feel better again and not be reminded of the disease."
The biggest blow is usually due to the hair loss, both on the head and in the face. Make-up artists sometimes say that the eyebrows are the coat of the face. When they disappear, the face immediately gets a much flatter expression, "says Odenthal. It is therefore a misunderstanding that hair loss would be harder for women than for men. When men become bald in a natural way, this happens step by step. As a result of chemotherapy, the hair is gone in a very short time. In addition, chemo can cause dry, sensitive and dull skin and pigmentation differences. The nails also become brittle regularly and as a result of the therapies both weight gain and loss can occur.
A helping hand in tackling external characteristics that a patient can influence is therefore of great importance for self-confidence, says Odenthal. "I do not pretend that people with a make-up brush can be made healthy again, but a fresher look can make people feel a lot better." provide a better feeling when the hair actually starts to fall out. When a hairworker can see how the natural hair falls on a patient, a wig can be adjusted even better to the patient. In this respect, external care is certainly not a luxury, says Odenthal, but a way in which patients can handle their treatment better. Everything that the patient can do in her own direction makes for a more pleasant feeling, she says. Moreover, it is always nice for a patient to "not be sick" for a moment and to be occupied with something other than the medical side of their illness.
Cosmetic doctor Dr. Catharina Meijer, chairman of the Dutch Association of Cosmetic Medicine (NVCG) agrees that it can be enormously important for cancer patients to look good. In her profession she regularly sees patients who want to regain their natural, fresh appearance. After all, the skin is the 'last' item in the body, she says. When someone is sick, all energy and nutrients in the body will be used to ensure that the system "inside" the patient survives. So there is little reserve left for the skin, making it duller, weaker and weaker. In some cancer patients, the face also looks sunken, because not only the skin but also the subcutaneous fat and muscle mass are shrinking.
A visit to a cosmetic clinic is therefore a relief for many patients, both for people who have survived their illness and for patients who know they will not have much longer to live and do not want to be remembered as "sick." Volume loss in the face can be corrected for them with filler treatments with safe biodegradable fillers or with body fat. Laser treatments, peels or microdermabrasion can be used to regain the smooth color and healthy blood circulation in the skin. "To help a cancer patient, or in post-cancer life, to feel better again and not be reminded of the disease."
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