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Skin Care For Cancer Patients Becomes Part Of Healing Process

LOS ANGELES ( — A cancer diagnosis may mean changes to every aspect of one's life, including skin care, and one local woman has made it her mission to help patients find their glow again.

"Instead of thinking about play dates, I had to think about how to save my life," said Suzanne Asherson, a young mother of two, who was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer at 32.

Asherson explains that she has been going to skin care specialist Charlotte Dorsey for 10 years, and along with her doctors and support system, she was one more angel in her corner.

"An oncology esthetician can identify the side effects as a result of chemotherapy, radiation or medication and treat those side effects," Dorsey said.

Dorsey is just one of a few hundred in the nation who specializes in treating people with cancer. Dorsey received intensive training in learning how chemotherapy, radiation and medication, as well as stress, take a toll on the skin.

The goal, she says, is to use products and touch therapy to return skin to a calm, healthy state.

"During chemotherapy, I experienced a lot of dry skin. I had a lot of radiation burns, and my skin hurt," Asherson said.

Using special products, some even handmade, touch therapy and more techniques, skin care for cancer patients is becoming more and more a part of healing.

"I'm activating the lymphatic system. There is a lot of detoxification and lymphatic drainage. Medications can deplete your skin of different nutrients that need to be replaced topically," Dorsey said.

Dorsey looks for chemical-free, sulfate-free products for sensitive skin and avoids mineral oil and petroleum that she says can act as sealants rather than moisturizers. She also says hydration is key.

"A little water mixed with maybe rose oil or peppermint oil and spray that on throughout the day," Dorsey said. "When you are applying products, always apply in an upward motion. Never rub your skin but pat it and say, 'I love you.' "

And most important for cancer patients is the use of all-natural 30 SPF or more.

"Sunscreen when it's sunny. Sunscreen when it's shady. I call it being a shady lady. You have to wear sunscreen all the time," Dorsey said.

Asherson says many with cancer have no idea that those working in oncological skin care exist.

"There are many doctors out there that do not know the importance of how to change your skin regimen to combat the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation," Asherson said.

Asherson is still on medication but a year and a half after her diagnosis, she says: "I am proud to shout: No evidence of cancer!"

Asherson credits Dorsey and chemical-free natural skin care for the return of the flow in her face. She also credits the power of the mind, supports Komen LA County and plans to walk in Race for the Cure with many others March 7 at Dodger Stadium.

"You're not just surviving. You're thriving. And beautiful skin makes you thrive," Dorsey said.

Some of Dorsey's tips include using lip balm and not lip gloss; try to avoid products with alcohol, read all ingredients and check with your doctor when it comes to ingredients.

Dorsey offers free consultants, even via computer, to help patients nationwide. For more tips and information, click here.

If you're interested in finding out more or want to learn how to walk in Race for the Cure, click here.

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