Cancer patient called 'radioactive' by spa employee debunks cancer myth

August 07, 2017 09:59 AM

WATERFORD - “We were trying to escape cancer for a few hours and then it was right back there in front of us,” said Nicole Batchelder.

The Waterford resident said a day at the spa last Thursday turned into a nightmare.

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“She said to me that we had to talk about the C thing referring to cancer,” she said.

Batchelder has stage 3 breast cancer.

She said a massage therapist at a Warren County Spa refused her service over fears about Batchelder's cancer treatment.

“And then she asked if I was undergoing treatment,” Batchelder said. “And I said yes and I had radiation that morning. And she said then I was radioactive and no one could touch me.”

Her friend, Ann Marie Lizzi, is a breast cancer survivor and on the Board of Advisors for the American Cancer Society.

She treated Batchelder to the spa day and was shocked by the experience.

“Another woman there said are you looking for your friend and I said yes and she said oh something terrible happened and she left in tears,” Lizzi said as she described the moment another customer informed her that something went wrong with Batchelder at the spa.

NewsChannel 13 is not naming the spa but the company tells us the massage therapist was wrong and her views do not reflect their policies.

Joni Richter, who is a Health Systems Manager for the American Cancer Society, said she is in talks to train the spa on best practices for treating cancer patients.

She said people receiving radiation treatment are not harmful and can benefit from massages.

“Research shows that is not accurate,” Richter said. “And instead it actually helps the body to be more receptive, to heal. And any time you can reduce stress, your body is in a much better place.”

Richter helps run the organization's Hope Club in Latham, which provides support to people with cancer.

They have a wellness room and offer spa days for cancer patients.

“This situation allows us to bring to light that cancer patients should not be feared but rather be embraced,” Lizzi said.

“Cancer patients can do you know anything that everybody else can,” Batchelder said. “We work we can go to the massage place we can go to the swimming pool. You can do all the things that you did before.”

Batchelder said the massage therapist latter offered her a massage after she showed her a doctor’s note but at that point, Batchelder was no longer interested in receiving a massage from the spa.

When managers at the spa learned what happened they apologized, gave her friend a refund and offered Batchelder a complimentary massage and dinner for four.


Nia Hamm

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