Focusing on Self-Care for the Body, Mind and SpiritSep 30, 2022 ● By Carrie Jackson
Breast cancer can typically be a life-altering and scary diagnosis, as women face questions and uncertainties about their short- and long-term well-being. Taking steps to continuously nurture themselves can help provide comfort, stability and grounding during an unsettling time. Caring for the body, mind and spirit through diagnosis, treatment, healing and beyond is just as important as following doctor protocols.
Three Chicago-area experts offered their thoughts on some ways women can make self-care a priority throughout their cancer journey.
“All the women in my family died very young from various cancer forms, and the subject is so close to my heart and soul. Whether you choose allopathic, holistic or a combination of healing modalities, there is so much you can do, and the food you eat can help you get to a better level of comfort. Alternative therapies combined with self-care, self-love and self-support can also make a huge difference. Take off your shoes and stand in the soil, outside in the sun to bring more vitamin D and nature into your life. Take a warm, soothing baking soda bath to help with the pH levels in your body. Look for a new book club to join to support your mental and social wellness. Find new habits that you can commit to for yourself; even just drinking a glass of purified water first thing in the morning before you do anything.”
~ Karyn Calabrese, founder of Karyn’s Raw
“When a woman hears she will have surgery to treat her breast cancer, there is relief that it is survivable, but then the next question is how to fill her bra. Properly fitted breast prostheses and pocketed mastectomy bras are not just cosmetic, they are critical to a woman’s posture and self-esteem. Accredited mastectomy boutiques work with individuals facing the challenges of living with cancer to learn about and purchase products that help them regain and maintain a positive self-image. These items are covered by insurance.
Second Act, in Chicago, is an accredited mastectomy boutique that offers a wide range of prosthesis and bra options, as well as swimsuits, casual wear and more, all designed specifically to hold your prosthesis. We specialize in personalized fittings by a certified mastectomy fitter who recognizes the emotional and physical trauma women experience when diagnosed with breast cancer. We also know the importance of not just surviving, but thriving. We believe that everyone has the power to envision the life we desire, and we are here to help.”
~ Pattie Sheehan, owner of Second Act
“Appropriate skin care during oncological treatment is very important, and should start even before the treatment begins. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy can negatively affect the condition of the patient’s skin, leaving it excessively dry, sensitive and even painful. Look for products that have protective and regenerating effects on the skin. I highly recommend cosmetics with a corneotherapy-centric approach that help repair, replenish and regenerate the skin from within. Trained oncology estheticians can recommend other appropriate products and help guide the patient toward holistic treatments for the mind, body and spirit.
Patients should take short showers in lukewarm water which have added soothing and calming benefits. Use mild cosmetics with a natural pH and avoid ingredients like alcohol, fragrance, dyes, parabens, phthalates, PEGs, sulfates, glycols and mineral oils. Avoid sudden changes in temperature and wear loose, airy clothes made of natural and soft fabrics that are breathable and comfortable.”
~ Paulina Iannotta, Holistic Skin Expert