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How spas are helping people with cancer

Managing Director of Made for Life Organics, Founder of the The Made for Life Foundation, SATCC trustee and Queen of Hugs, Amanda Winwood, talks about taking spa therapist training to the next level and the inspiration behind her Inner Goddess Calendar.

Amanda Winwood - high res

Amanda Winwood is a lifelong friend of - we've always loved her skincare products from Made for Life Organics, and we've always shared her passion for making the spa industry accessible to anyone with cancer. She is also a trustee of the SATCC (Founded by Sue Harmsworth - founder of ESPA) which sets the gold standard for spa therapist training in oncology touch treatments in the UK. In an ever-evolving space supporting, she took the time to tell us what she and her team have been up to, from skincare to making spa treatments even more accessible to anyone who's had a cancer diagnosis.

Feel-good-factor skincare

We've been busy! We're a small company compared to many, but what I've learned is you don't have to be great to be great!

We're still making our skincare products in Cornwall - Made for Life Organics - and they really are made for life. We have customers who are mums-to-be, who are becoming more aware of what they put on their skin, to babies who have been treated for atopic dermatitis.

Our oldest customer (that I know of), is 96 years old and she says that not only does her skin look amazing, the products make her feel good, and really that's what it's all about

Making spa treatments more accessible to anyone with cancer

Training wise, lots has happened! Our Advanced Cancer Touch Therapy was recognised as a finalist at the CIBTAC Annual Awards, which was wonderful.

Training spa therapists in oncology massage from the start

We're delighted to have developed a Train the Tutor programme, so now we're going into colleges, which have historically told students not to touch anyone with cancer. This means that we're not only delivering our Cancer Touch Training programmes to students, but giving tutors the training they need so they too can deliver our courses as well.

It feels amazing because it's a sea change that has taken a long time to come about. To date, training in oncology touch treatments has been something therapists have only been able to access after their initial training - usually in their own time. Getting in there, at a grassroots level so that they can graduate and treat clients with cancer from the start and make sure everyone is welcome in spas is what we've been working so hard towards.

Spa treatments during end of life care

We're also taking our treatments into hospices, which began at Compton Care in early 2023. They have a complementary therapy team going through our tutor training programme, and what we have learned is they're not just delivering the treatments to patients during end of life care, but also to their families. They're finding it makes a massive difference to everyone, their experience and how they feel.

Continuing to set the gold standard for holistic cancer care

The stats as they stand are:

  • 1 in 2 people will experience cancer
  • 1 in 8 women will experience breast cancer
  • 1 in 8 men will experience prostate cancer

We have to make the spa world inclusive for everyone, especially when it comes to cancer, and that means we have to understand the importance of proper training, make sure a standard is set and recognise the value of it.

I'm very privileged to work with some fantastic people who I've learned so much from. For example, Diane Hey, founder of Armonia Health & Beauty and the Armonia Training Academy is off the scale in terms of her knowledge. Through her training academy she runs brilliant apprenticeship schemes. We partner with Armonia which means young people complete training and can work on anyone with cancer - that’s really changing the face of the industry to be more inclusive.

Then you also have people like Emma Pridding, Spa Director at Carden Park, who has worked with us offering these beautiful Tea and Therapy mornings we have developed, for anyone in the local area who's had a cancer diagnosis. Her therapists provide free treatments and we provide self-care support. The difference it makes to people is incredible.

Sue Harmsworth and the SATCC are looking to take all this incredible knowledge, passion and determination, and not only provide life changing experiences for people, but to bring recognition and credibility to the work that therapists do - to show how precious these people are.

We need to have well trained therapists who have been through an accredited training programme to support people with cancer, and I do think the SATCC stands for a high standard. You have to meet certain criteria, and Sue herself stands for credibility.

The Made for Life Inner Goddess calendar

When the Made for Life Foundation was first set up to provide holistic support to anyone who had a cancer diagnosis, I was in Cornwall and I worked with a brilliant photographer, Mark. I was finding that the women we worked with, who had cancer or were living beyond it, had all had their confidence badly damaged. I spoke to Mark and we came up with the idea of doing a calendar - this was in 2012 - and it was a beautiful, breathtaking experience.

In 2023 it was the 20th anniversary of Made for Life Organics and I felt it was the right time for another calendar. I went back to Mark, who said “yes!” and gave his time for nothing. I also spoke to Sue about giving the proceeds to the SATCC and the Made for Life Foundation. Teresa O Farrell, Coworth Park agreed to provide the location, and they were amazing (we also launched the calendar there). We then asked members of the spa industry if they wanted to be involved. The idea was to highlight what we do as an industry and to show people within our sector who have also been on their own cancer journey.

What I love about this process is seeing the impact of having these photos taken on the women who take part. We asked each woman to think about who their inner goddess was. They chose how they wanted to be, selected their clothing and things that were meaningful for them. Each woman also made an affirmation, which you will find on their calendar pages.

It's about showing that cancer is not an exclusive thing. Here are people in our industry who have been affected and who help people who live with cancer. Look at how amazing they are, and take it as a reminder to celebrate who you are.

You can purchase the Goddess Calendar here using the discount code goddess.

Find out more about spa experiences during and beyond cancer treatment

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