A few weeks ago, Sylla and I went to H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center to speak at a Lunch and Learn event for stage 4 breast cancer patients. It began with each of the women (and one husband who was accompanying his wife) sharing where they were at in their treatment. We learned why some of them were excited about NED (No Evidence of Disease) and felt touched that we could be there to support those going through harder times.

It was particularly special for us because Sylla (my mom) is a breast cancer survivor. She shared about how she found that cancer was a great uninvited teacher, that “it wasn’t enough to kill her but enough to make her change her life.” Though she’s now 20 years with NED, she still carries those lessons forward.

Even before she found her cancer in 1997, Sylla had helped her friend who also worked at Moffitt with a program called “Look Good, Feel Better.” With a mutual background in cosmetology, Sylla and her friend would teach these women skin-care and make-up techniques so they can begin to feel better as they re-integrated into everyday life.

So we thought, why not call our talk this week “Smell Good, Feel Better,” since that is one of the guiding principles of aromatherapy. In addition to sharing with everyone a basic introduction to essential oils, we highlighted what they can do in their lives.

  • Use essential oils in the air to help keep air clean and help support the immune system. Since many cancer patients’ immune systems are compromised, and since most essential oils carry at least mildly if not more so antimicrobial properties, this simple practice can help suppress the chance of getting a cold.
  • Have Peppermint or Ginger essential oil in an inhaler or a drop on a tissue to ease the discomfort of nausea.
  • Topical blends with anti-inflammatory or analgesic oils can help with muscle aches and pains.
  • Use the oils to help create a positive mental attitude. You can pair a scent with a relaxed state and then re-create that state as needed.

We mentioned in our student forum that we were going to speak and a few decided to send us items to share with these women. It was soon after so only one box got here in time, but we got to leave them with donations from Terrae Oleum. It was a joyful experience to share our love for the oils with these women and their caregivers. The other donations will get used at a bigger event next month!

Since our students were right on the ball wanting to help with more donations for these cancer patients, we’ve decided to collect donations for their retreat in September for a project we are calling, “Smell Good, Feel Better.” If you’d like to donate manufactured, compliantly labeled items (these cannot be homemade), contact us.


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