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  • Writer's pictureDana Arcuri

Coaching for Cancer & Burn Survivors

When we think about trauma, what first comes to mind can be abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, or the military. However, there is a wide range of traumatic experiences that go beyond abuse and violence.

People who are diagnosed with cancer, a terminal illness, an autoimmune disorder, or who had sustained serious burn injuries in a fire are also trauma survivors. If anyone is deserving of emotional support, encouragement, and comfort it's women and men who are in the midst of their healing journey, whether it's for cancer, burn injuries, an autoimmune disorder, or being a caregiver for these bravehearted souls.

I am not a stranger to cancer. It has hit too close to home for me. My mother, father, relatives, and close friend Paula had been diagnosed with cancer. As a caregiver to my mom who had battled stage 3 brain cancer for four years, I came to realize there isn't enough emotional support available for cancer survivors, nor their caregivers. Oftentimes, everyone focuses only on the physical aspects of cancer, burn injuries, or invisible illnesses. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Invasive procedures. Surgery. Medications. But what about treating each person like a whole human being? What about their mental health, emotional well-being, and tending to their souls? Nobody wants to talk about the "C" word. People seem to walk on eggshells around cancer survivors, burn survivors, their caregivers, and those who struggle with an invisible illness. This makes it incredibly isolating for the patient as well as their caregivers.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused, and scared. You don't have to go through it alone. I am here to offer you emotional support, a nonmedical approach, effective tools, spiritual support, and holistic modalities.

Before I get into my educational and professional experiences with cancer patients and burn survivors, I want to openly share about my experience as a cancer caregiver. Here's what nobody talks about: the pain, the tears, the trauma, the stress, the sleepless nights, the sadness, and the anticipatory grief that goes along with cancer caregiving.

It was March 2016, when my mother had a seizure next to me in the movie theater. Neither of us knew what was wrong. I wanted my mother to go to the emergency room, but she stubbornly refused. My top concern was her health and safety. I finally convinced my mom to contact her doctor for medical testing. Following her medical tests, my mom left a few messages on my telephone. On that busy day, I was at the mall running errands when out of nowhere something hit my conscious mind.

Call it intuition or my gift of having a sixth sense of the inner knowing. Whatever the case, here's the thought that entered my mind: "Mom has cancer." It hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately walked out of the mall, climbed into my car, and sobbed. I knew my mother had cancer before she even told me. Eventually, my mother did inform me of her diagnosis of stage 3 brain cancer. We had a family meeting with her, my sisters, and myself to determine how we could best support my mom. All of us put on a smile and pretended to be strong. Silently, I pleaded with God for mercy and strength to sustain and heal my mother.

Anticipatory Grief During the Cancer Journey

I remember when I started experiencing anticipatory grief in the early days of my mom's cancer journey. It was 2016 and shortly after her diagnosis. I had felt lost and alone. Well-meaning folks said hurtful remarks to me that made me feel misunderstood. A relative demanded me to "toughen up and have thicker skin."

Truth be told, that isn't how to emotionally support a caregiver. That isn't how to offer comfort and encouragement. And that's not the appropriate response to a caregiver, nor a cancer survivor.

In effort for me to seek emotional support, I called a local church who had a cancer support group for caregivers of cancer patients who had passed away. When I inquired about joining their group, I was told that it was only for those who lost a loved one to cancer. It wasn't for caregivers who are still in the midst of their loved one's cancer journey. So where did this leave me? It felt like a punch in my gut. The need for emotional support and understanding during all of the stages of a cancer journey are valid. Everyone deserves to receive support. Including the caregivers and family members.

Cancer, tragic burn injuries, a terminal illness, and autoimmune disorders are extremely stressful and overwhelming. It impacts not only the patient's life and health, but also their loved ones. Nobody should be forced to go it alone.

This is exactly why I am expanding my Certified Trauma Recovery Coaching business to include coaching for:

  1. Cancer survivors

  2. Caregivers of cancer survivors

  3. Burn survivors

  4. Caregivers of burn survivors

  5. Invisible illnesses

  6. Caregivers of loved ones with invisible illnesses

Because they need nonjudgmental, emotional support, comfort, encouragement, spiritual support, understanding, compassion, and effective tools to equip them along these uncertain times.

After working as a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach for close to two years, what I have noticed is a common thread in my clients who not only dealt with unhealed abuse and trauma, but they struggled with chronic pain, anxiety, depression, isolation, anger, as well as the lack of support by some (or all) of their family members, spouses, friends, and church members. All of their human emotions and feelings are valid. Oftentimes, it's common for my clients to tell me that I am the first person who they have disclosed their painful traumatic experiences to. My clients have stated, "You are the first person who has been caring, compassionate, and nonjudgmental towards me."

Working as a coach for a wide range of specialties has been the most rewarding, meaningful endeavor in my life. As a fibromyalgia and trauma survivor, I am using everything that I have learned personally, professionally, and educationally to share with the world. This is what lights my fire as I embrace my special calling upon my life purpose.

My Professional & Educational Credentials

My background is quite versatile. My professional and educational experiences are in the beauty industry, medical industry, and mental health industry. In addition, I am a published author of six books, and I am a YouTuber.

My goal is to utilize my wide range of skills from all three industries for coaching cancer survivors, burn survivors, those who have an invisible illness, and caregivers.

The Beauty Industry: I have been a licensed beauty expert for 35 years. My license is current, although I had left the beauty industry in 2010 when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and herniated discs. My extensive advanced beauty training includes:

  • Franco Beauty Academy for 12 month Training - Master Cosmetology, Esthetic Skincare, Makeup Artistry, and Electrolysis. Received my beauty license in 1988. My license is up to date.

  • The Look Good Feel Better Training by the American Cancer Society in September 1999 - A certification training for working as a licensed beauty professional to teach esthetic skincare and makeup techniques to cancer survivors. The program taught how to better understand cancer, the physical nature of cancer, and the psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis. My training included learning about wigs and creative scarf techniques for cancer survivors. Following this training, I started working at local hospitals for the Look Good Feel Better Program.

  • The Art of Corrective Cosmetics Training by Pioneer Trauma Makeup Expert, Linda Seidel in April 2000 - One-on-one training with Linda to learn trauma makeup techniques, camouflage makeup, and application techniques.

  • Hospital-Based Image Enhancement & Social Skills Training at Spectrum Health Burn Unit in May 2000 - This was a comprehensive three day training with hands-on experience in esthetic skincare, corrective makeup techniques, and color analysis for burn survivors. My training included the emotional aspect to practice behavioral skills to help increase the client's social confidence, self-esteem, body image, comfort, and to offer emotional support to equip clients to re-enter society.

  • Professional Speaker/Trauma Beauty Expert - In June 2000, I had the exciting opportunity to be a professional speaker and trauma beauty expert for a local burn unit who had a hospital conference for burn survivors. Following my speech, I taught corrective makeup to burn survivors and medical professionals.

  • Work History as a Licensed Beauty Expert - My extensive work history and experience working for 35 years in the beauty industry includes working for cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists, medical spas, Sephora, Clinique Cosmetics, working as a freelance makeup artist for Benefit Cosmetics, and owning my own beauty business in which I specialized in wedding day makeovers, photography makeup and hair, freelance makeup artistry & stylist for PBS TV, and working as a Supervisor of the makeup department for a local TV station.

The Medical Industry: I have had the honor to work in many different capacities within the medical field, including as a Certified Medical Assistant, a Surgical Technician, and a Medical Esthetician for cosmetic surgery and dermatology.

  • Certified Medical Assistant Training - April 1993 to December 1993. Successfully completed certification examination.

  • Surgical Technician Program - October 2001 to March 2002. Successfully completed on-the-job training in a local trauma hospital.

  • Medical Assistant Work History - From December 1993 to November 2005, I had worked in various medical positions at local hospitals and medical offices for cardiology, dermatology, cosmetic surgery, and internal medicine.

  • Surgical Technician Work History - From March 2002 to September 2003, I had worked as a Surgical Technician in the OR and GI unit at local hospitals. My specialties included cosmetic surgery, maxillofacial surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurology, trauma surgery, Ears/Nose/Throat surgery, and general surgery.

Coaching for Cancer Survivors, Burn Survivors, Invisible Illnesses, & Caregivers

As a Certified Coach, I provide my clients with voice and choice in their recovery. This means they are seen, heard, validated, and respected. I offer nonjudgmental emotional support to each client.

Regardless of what you are facing today, whether it's cancer, serious burn injuries, autoimmune disorders, or other medical conditions, remember this:

  1. It is your life.

  2. It is your body.

  3. It is your mind.

  4. It is your future.

  5. It is your choice how you choose to heal.

Core Coaching Components:

  • Mental Health

  • Emotional Support

  • Spiritual Support

  • Self-esteem/Self-image

  • Nutrition/Lifestyle

Here is what you will receive:

  • Private one-on-one coaching with me via Zoom

  • Emotional support by me

  • A good listener who validates you

  • Safe space to talk to me without judgment

  • Explore a body-mind connection to recover; physically, emotionally, & spiritually

  • Set realistic recovery goals to increase your quality of life

  • Inspiration and motivation from me; your coach & mentor

  • Professional resources to support you and your healing journey

Steps to Sign Up for Coaching:

1. Provide your electronic payment name. I accept Zelle, Venmo, and Stripe.

2. Provide your full name and email address linked to your electronic payment.

3. I will send you an invoice.

4. Pay the invoice. Prices: Prices | My Site (

Today, I don't know what you are going through. What I do know is this: People don't always need advice. Sometimes all they really need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen, and a heart to understand them. This is what I am offering to each of my clients. To learn more about coaching for cancer survivors, burn survivors, caregivers, and those trying to manage autoimmune conditions, you may contact me right here on my website. I look forward to working with you!

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