How to deal with super-dry hands
Q. I have very dry hands with painful cracks around my nails. I apply hand and barrier creams, but nothing works. My daughter suggested that a paraffin wax treatment might help. A Warm paraffin wax is acknowledged as an effective emollient (also a treatment for arthritic hands), so your daughter is right. There are DIY kits, but you should have a professional treatment first – local beauty salons often offer these – to see how it works. Meanwhile, for daily use, pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends Gloves In A Bottle shielding lotion (£10.50 for 240ml, www.victoriahealth.com), which bonds with the surface skin cells to create a barrier that stops moisture escaping and keeps moisture-robbing irritants from getting in. Reapply every four hours.
A neighbour’s three-year-old son refused to eat vegetables. Nothing she tried helped until he was given a little vegetable gardening box. Sowing carrots and lettuce seeds, watching them grow, then picking and eating his own crop changed his attitude completely. You could just buy some seeds and get dug in, as Lolo Houbein suggests in her book One Magic Square (£19.99/Green Books*), which explains how to grow your own food on one square metre of ground. Or you could visit www.rocketgardens.co.uk, one of my favourite websites, which offers a Spring Vegetable Garden (from £21.99). Order now and in mid-May you will receive a wide selection of organic baby plants with a growing guide. Rocket Gardens also has a thriving schools programme; details are available on the website.
DON'T LET CANCER GET YOU DOWN
Clinical depression affects up to 13 per cent of cancer patients, compared with about two per cent in the general population. But according to a 2014 study, three quarters of those patients received no effective treatment or support.
A new resource pioneered by Dr. Alex J Mitchell, consultant in psycho-oncology at the University of Leicester, aims to help fill that void. In 2013, Dr Mitchell began developing CancerStories (www.cancerstories.info), a YouTube channel where patients tell their personal stories, relating their lows and highs, experiences, tips and advice.
Sister channel CancerThemes covers topics such as fatigue, anxiety, trust, communication issues and sleep, plus experts explaining topics such as early menopause caused by cancer treatment.
I first heard of CancerStories when one of Dr. Mitchell’s patients, Julie Charlish, now part of the tiny volunteer team working on CancerStories, rang the YOU office to ask us to tell our readers about it ‘because it is important this information gets out’.
Julie, 55, knows only too well the emotional pressure that can weigh down cancer patients. After two lots of surgery for breast cancer, six months of chemotherapy and 16 sessions of radiotherapy, she thought it was the end of her treatment. ‘Then a letter came saying I had to go back for another round. I was also dealing with the death of my father in a car crash and the feelings of my eight-year-old daughter. I was in a dark place and didn’t know which way to turn. I went into meltdown in the hospital because I couldn’t physically get myself to walk back into the chemotherapy suite.’
Julie was eventually referred to Dr. Mitchell, who gave her coping strategies and, crucially, reassured her that what she was feeling was normal: ‘He told me no one could be expected to cope with everything that was happening to me. He also said he was asking patients to make video diaries, in order to reach out to many more people.I thought it was a wonderful idea.’
It is well accepted that psychological support is as important as the physical treatment for cancer patients and, as Julie says, ‘You need the coping strategies to get through the gruelling therapies.’ The wonderful thing is that this simple, low-cost resource, inspired by experience and fuelled by the passion of the participants, is available to all.