Terry Bartels of Portland is a certified esthetician at Visibility in Portland, and has earned oncology skincare certification from On- cology Spa Solutions. She is presently working as a high school guidance counselor and is looking forward to expanding her esthetics practice. She talked recently about the impact of cancer treatment on skin and how she helps women.
Q: Terry, we know you are a cancer survivor yourself. Is this how you became involved in offering esthetician services to oncology patients?
A: I am a 12-year breast cancer survivor or, as I like to think of myself, 12 years and thriving. For the past 30 years I have enjoyed getting facials. When I was diagnosed with cancer, one of the first things I felt was important to do was to take care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Twelve years ago I had never heard of an oncology-trained licensed esthetician. I knew immediately this was something I wanted to be a part of. I understand how, when you hear the words, “You have cancer,” it rocks your world on so many levels. My passion for skin care combined with my compassion for clients going through cancer treatments and the toll they take on the skin are the reasons I became an oncology esthetician. I am very excited to be bringing OE to the Greater Portland area.
Q: What happens to a woman’s skin as she undergoes treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation? What are the challenges?
A: The skin is the largest organ of the body and often is severely affected as an indirect result of oncology treatments (chemotherapy, medication, surgery and radiation therapy). These treatments can slow down the skin’s ability to renew itself, leaving the skin feeling fragile, dry and itchy, with increased sensitivity to the sun.
Q: Is there an emotional component to this work?
A: Absolutely. I have been personally affected by cancer on several levels and have a unique understanding of the physical and emotional challenges of cancer patients and survivors. I take time before greeting each client to get myself centered and grounded so I can be present and in the moment when I am with them. I can provide non-invasive, beneficial skin-care services specially personalized to meet the needs of each individual with health-challenged skin, and do so in a compassionate way. I want all the clients I meet to feel comfortable and safe during their time with me. I want them to leave replenished, hydrated, and relaxed.
Q: What kinds of things do you do for your clients? What should they expect when they come to see you?
A: As an OE, I am trained to give more than just a facial. The key to oncology skin care is to be gentle: no pressure, no friction, no steam, no hot towels. The need is to care for skin softly to restore, hydrate and protect. Results will include an improvement of blood flow, skin tone and hydration, as well as a reduction in irritation and inflammation. An oncology facial features gentle, unscented, non-toxic and healing products. These soothing facial treatments include gentle cleansing, nurturing masks and moisturizing. My clients leave replenished, hydrated and refreshed.