Skin care

With my breast cancer I had a grand total of 10 days from diagnosis to my first chemotherapy. There were a lot of things that occurred in those 10 days; tests, port placement, x-rays, scans and “Chemo class”.

Chemo Class was an appointment with an oncology nurse at my practice who told me a bit about the first chemotherapy I was going to have A&C (adriamycin and cytoxan for you who are not in the club), what to expect, took me to see the chemo room, needs for someone to drive home from treatment, etc.  I was advised to drink tons of water, to not use any mouthwash or any mouth products with alcohol in them and to use a moisturizer without alcohol.

I had a plan and when you’re in treatment or about to start treatment a plan is a great thing to have.  It is a known in a sea of unknowns.  So I went to my local drugstore and went looking for a moisturizer without alcohol, sounds easy right?  I couldn’t find one, I had the pharmacist down in the aisle helping me look and the only thing we can find without alcohol is cocoa butter.  I like cocoa butter in small doses but not for my entire body or for my face. I was in a tizzy, I didn’t know anyone who was getting chemo and was just convinced my skin would slough off if I didn’t have the right moisturizer.

The next day I called the oncology office in a panic, I couldn’t find an alcohol free moisturizer and was going to start treatment soon HELPPPP!

A calm and sweet nurse slowed me down and told me that it didn’t need to be alcohol FREE but to watch fragrances, etc.  “What kind should I use?  Do I buy it at the hospital? Medical equipment store?”

“No dear, you can go to the drugstore and buy Eucerin,  Vaseline Intensive Care, Aveeno”. She went on to mention a few other brands and I went shopping.

When you’re about to begin treatment you can have a few different responses.  Some people get paralyzed by fear and don’t do anything, some get manic and want to do anything possible, going to war and fighting.I was in the second group and was going to fight this with a PLAN!

Now this was just over two years ago and I would have bought anything recommended regardless of the price.  I was terrified and vulnerable.  In the beginning you are convinced you are going to die. I don’t know one person diagnosed with cancer who hasn’t had that thought. Am I going to be able to work?  Is my insurance going to cover everything?  A million questions and fears.

Now there are companies who are selling skin care products marketed specifically for patients with cancer.

The prices for these products are significant. Lindi (face serum $40 per ounce, body wash $20), Alra (deodorant, shampoo, and lotion $25 gift set), Jeans Cream ($45 for seven ounces) are just examples.  Many doctors are now giving samples of them to patients.  Well, if I had been given a sample of this I would have assumed that this is the moisturizer I should  be using and would have bought it, loads of it .  When given by my doctor or sold in the hospitals endorsement is presumed.

Lindy Snider of Lindi Skin was quoted in the New York Times as saying; “Most people, if they have a special need, they’re willing to buy a product,” she said. “It’s sort of like saying, ‘Why isn’t chemo free?’ Doctors who administer chemo make money on that. We need to afford to make these products. I’m trying to fill a need.”

There’s my problem.  Comparing skin cream to chemotherapy strikes me as callous and greedy.  Especially if there are products at my local drug store, or even, grocery store that work just as well.  But I know that had this been widely available when I was in treatment I’d have bought batches and would have received loads.

People can choose to buy anything they want and spend their money on anything they want but…treatment is expensive!  Even with insurance you have deductibles, co-pays for doctors, medications not to mention loss of income for a lot of people. And if I have to make a choice, I’ll pay for my chemo and meds and skip Lindi’s skin cream and I’d tell my friends to do the same.

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