When it comes to self-care, there are a plethora of options out there, ranging from the sublime to – let’s be honest folks – the ridiculous! From organic seaweed baths (wonderful) to vampire facials (weird!) never before have we enjoyed so much choice in the treatments, therapies and products that keep us feeling relaxed, revived and inspired.
What you might not know is that this abundance of self-care opportunities falls drastically short for one particular group of people; those of us living with cancer. The current recommendation from Cancer Research UK is that people with cancer should avoid very deep massage, explaining though, that specialist, gentler types can be beneficial.
However, many therapists are understandably hesitant to treat cancer patients, wary of unintentionally causing harm. In fact, standard industry training discourages therapists from offering treatments to people living with cancer meaning that sadly, many women and men who are facing the gruelling regime of chemo or radiotherapy, can’t seek solace in a relaxing massage.
Kat Milliken, manager of Dunkeld House Hotel Spa explains: “When I was training to be a therapist it was drummed into us to say no to anyone with cancer. This hasn’t really changed in the ten years since, and I’ve always felt it was a huge problem within the industry. Turning away someone at a point in their live when they need to practice self-care the most, has never sat right with me.Turning away someone at a point in their live when they need to practice self-care the most, has never sat right with me.”
Over the years Kat has researched various products and methods, but it was only when she discovered the Made For Life range last year that she felt she had found an ethical way forward.
The range was created over 20 years ago by an ex-paramedic. He wanted to develop skincare that would nourish the body both inside and out. Since their conception, the formulations have evolved with dermatological research formulations using organic herbs and flowers. In 1999, they were the first UK company to achieve 100% organic certification and since then, they’ve developed their 3 day Cancer Touch Therapy training course, which is accredited by the Complimentary Medical Association.
Kat explained: “Both myself and Chamaine, our head therapist attended the course in September 2019, which was really in depth, and gave us a far deeper understanding of what cancer is, the staging and grading of cancer and how the treatments for cancer can affect the need to adapt spa treatments.
“Without doubt, this was one of the most impactful training courses I’ve ever attended. Touch is such an important part of our mental and physical wellbeing - a gentle touch will lower cortisol and increase oxytocin, helping to reduces stress and tension as well as helping with sleep.
“Because of this, the treatments on offer are also fantastic for anyone struggling with mental health issues, or those of us going through stressful periods. I really do feel humbled at just how much we can now offer to ALL of our clients.”
Kat was keen to find a product that would fit with the Spa’s existing – and very popular - Ishga range, and the ‘natural is best’ ethos of her team. She wanted something that was great quality, 100% organic and gentle enough to be suitable for all skin types. Spotting the Made For Life range in another hotel, Kat was hopeful that she’d found her product; when further research opened the doors to their CANCER TOUCH THERAPY training, she was overjoyed.
“Essential oils made from scratch, products that care for the whole body and mind, and soil association accreditation were all on my list of ‘must-haves’. To find a partner that would allow us to develop and build or skills in order to help our clients living with cancer was just incredible.
All of the products are safe to use, and in fact some have been developed specifically with chemotherapy side effects in mind. All of the products are safe to use, and in fact some have been developed specifically with chemotherapy side effects in mind. Replenishing lip balms, muscle balm, hair treatments to stimulate growth – it is all amazing.”
Kat describes the treatments as “calming for the mind, and soothing for the soul” and assures me that extra time is taken at first appointments to find out how best people can be treated within the Spa at Dunkeld House Hotel. She and Chamaine will take care to adapt to suit individuals, and may advise tweaks or variations to the three signature treatments.
Made For Life Treatments Made for Life Mindful Moments (55 minutes) Create a rich sense of calmness whilst your body and mind are nourished and replenished. A beautiful nurturing meditation experience with a calming foot ritual, head, neck and shoulder massage, along with a firm and meaningful back massage, clears the mind and soothes the soul.
Made for Life Relax into Radiance (85 minutes) Feel completely relaxed yet refreshed with this all-encompassing treatment. Relax your mind and body with a full body exfoliation and back treatment, followed with a skin brightening express facial that cleanses and hydrates the skin whilst a relaxing head massage clears the mind.
Made For Life Uplifting Facial (75 mins) Surrender your senses for the ultimate relaxation while the muscles in the face are re-trained by expert hands, invigorating the cells within the dermis for regeneration and repair. Uplift your skin mind and soul.
Kat trained over ten years ago at Perth College UHI, and has been the spa manager at Dunkeld House Hotel for the past three years. In that time, the spa has undergone extensive refurbishment and Kat herself has developed her skills to include freelance training for Ishga.
“Beauty and spa therapies have changed so much in the past decade but for me, it’s always been about giving something back. I like knowing I’ve added to someone’s day and that on my table, they’ve been able to zone out and get away from everything outside that treatment room.
“I think that’s why I wanted so much to offer something that would let people facing this huge illness feel a little better. So much of the treatment involved in cancer involves being prodded and poked; this is a gentle, light stroke in a soothing private environment.
“We are so lucky to be situated where we are; it doesn’t matter what time of year you come up, it is beautiful. Our spa clients can use the pool, bring a book and sit on a lounger and soak up that glorious view and all of our wonderful Perthshire nature.”
To mark WORLD CANCER DAY on 4th February, anyone booking a Made For Life treatment throughout February will receive 25% discount. To book, please contact Dunkled House Hotel on 01350 727771
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