Tag Archives: La Roche Posay

Here comes the Sun – time to take cover.

Cancer patients can now get

Sunsreen on Prescription

So why don’t GPs tell us?

Here it is

Anthelios is an easily-aborbed cream (doesn’t sit in a white patch on your skin);  I use it on my face before I go out, even in Spring and Autumn (it seems to prevent lines on me) and is light and pleasant to use all over the body  – not sticky or ‘gunky’.

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What to do when skin itches from medical drug side effects

What to do if your skin itches or erupts

A friend has just posted a pic of her itchy, bubbly skin on a social website;  I hope she has better care from Dermatologists than I had.

Three days after starting Tamoxifen, I woke up bleeding all over from bloody blisters.  Had gone to bed with OK skin, but this overnight eruption frightened the living daylights out of me.

Rushed to hospital, where the Head Dermatologist told me”it’s your age”.  Tried to question his diagnosis, but he swept out, saying he didn’t have time to answer questions.

Tourism, holiday & travel in La Roche-PosayLuckily, the Head Chaplain suggested I go to La Roche Posay, (LRP), the French centre for these types of problems. Phoning to find out if they could help, they brushed aside my awful French, and in charming English said they would be delighted to see me, asked searching questions and fixed me up, appointments and all to investigate my problem. Continue reading

Update on “Is there anything else you can do to look after your skin?”

Adding a few simple rules to sensible care

=  younger-looking skin

A recent survey showed living in the countryside means less pollution – and concluded this is better for our skin. But what can those of us who have to live in towns58809_xl-2 and cities do to protect our skin?

Actually, looking at cousins who live in the country, I really don’t envy them their skin.  They may have less pollution, cleaner air, etc. but if  you don’t take care of your skin (and it seems often they don’t) you will end up with wrinkles, pasty skin etc. Continue reading

Doctors could be wrong – don’t worry if they can’t help with skin conditions

LP15122_bigCan’t work out why your skin itches?


When introduced to Tamoxifen, I woke up one morning to find I was bleeding all over from bloody  blisters.  This had been an extreme reaction to the drug, explained by doctors as “it’s your age”.  Luckily the hospital Chaplain suggested I went off to France, where they admitted this was a common side-effect from Tamoxifen – and gave me superb creams and balms to sort out the problem.

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Cancer, Polio, Diabetes and other conditions

Polio and other conditions

can affect Cancer Treatment

Update on yesterday’s Post:  suddenly my visitor stats to the website went rocketing up – I never knew so many people had problems from other conditions, that impacted on cancer treatment.  I was even singled out by Chris Salter, who publishes a daily bulletin on Polio around the world, and made me feel very honoured to think he was reading my article.  But researching available information, it seems to those MDT teams don’t take in to account what else we have had,

English: President Franklin Roosevelt, himself...

President Franklin Roosevelt, polio survivor


It had taken me two months to get over problems because the anaesthetist for my cancer op. had disregarded the fact that I had had polio.  Next time I asked the British Polio Fellowship to send their pre-operation pack to my surgeon, and also my anaesthetist, and bless them – both read it from cover to cover, and I sailed through this op.

Grudgingly the Oncologists acknowledged that polio might impact on some of my treatment, and at last I made such a fuss that I was sent to see a Polio specialist, and from then onwards things improved. But it took visits to hospitals in Europe before I found doctors to treat the two conditions holistically. Continue reading

Why don’t UK cancer treatments learn from abroad?

World Health Organisation constantly places

UK at bottom of treatment tables

Why?  Asking NHS big-wigs just gets a shrug of the shoulders.

United Nations World Health Organisation logo

UN World Health Organisation Wikipedia .

But waking up with bleeding blisters all over my body, three days after starting Tamoxifen, acted as a wake-up call.

I went to France to find out why the French live longer than we do after a cancer diagnosis (average 4.6 years) and if they were any better at giving helpful treatment.

I had been told by a top Oncologist “it’s your age” that caused the bloody blisters – and felt sure that was wrong.

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Welcome Spring with soft Skin

NHS needs to read report ‘Cured – but at what cost’

Highlights long-term side effects Tamoxifen 

Recently, cancer charities issued report on long-term side effects of just ONE drug: Tamoxifen.

Stick model of the tamoxifen molecule, as foun... 

Shockingly, it said HALF A MILLION cancer patients suffer major problems from long-term side effects of Tamoxifen – but had been ignored for a decade Some even report problems lasting years after they stopped taking the drug.  So it’s not just the effects of Winter`: research in US says patients could have side effects for 20 years or longer.

Yesterday, I tried to ask my GP for help in dealing with these – in particular my dry, itchy skin.  GP just looked blank.  ‘They’ blame us for surfing the net – but they could do some themselves and find out what is out there.

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From Facials to Ferragamo

Left with dried-out skin after Winter or

drug treatments?

What to do when left with dull skin.

Noël: Roseanne PlanetDoll Make-up - KRL


Take care of skin, and it will look good for many years.  I am no Saint, so don’t like preaching, but if you want an excuse to give up smoking, this will improve your facial skin no end.


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Eye problems when you are on medical drugs

Eye Problems


My eye



Many friends with cancer report having problems with their eyes.

I found it can be scary when Oncologists brush aside our concerns.






No-one warned me eye problems might be a side effect.   A week after starting Tamoxifen, when I woke up, all I could see was a greyish-yellow film across my right eye; nothing else.


Thinking the worst, I rushed to my Oncologist;  he told me  “I’ve never seen this before – I am sure it isn’t anything to worry about”.



Oh yeah?  The callousness of some medics defies belief.



Phoning Revd. David Brown, ex-Chaplain at the Royal Marsden Hospital, he told me “yes, a certain percentage of patients on Tamoxifen do suffer from blindness, but generally it disappears within two months”.



David was right.  So if he knew, why didn’t my Oncologist?



He recommended I went to see Michel Guillon, a French specialist from Nice, (and a devotee of Garibaldi (also born in Nice).  He had held a senior position at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, and knew all about Tamoxifen – and he wasn’t an Oncologist!



Prof. Guillon said it is possible in a very, very few cases to get Tamoxifen poisoning, but this is rare.  After subjecting my eyes to a fascinating range of high-tech tests, he said in my case it wasn’t Tamoxifen poisoning, and eventually my eye-sight would return. Phew!  And he was right, but I still have eye problems but nothing like as serious as the first.






Eventually I was changed over from Tamoxifen, and ended up on Aromasin.  Same vicious side effects, but this time my eye was red and painful, and I needed steroids to stop the pain.  Several were tried, but the one that worked was Dexamethasone (Maxidex).  This worked extremely well, and I was soon able to stop taking Dexamathasone.



Once the course had finished, I was recommended to use Rohto, an over-the-counter remedy,  and now, if I feel a recurrence, I just use Rohto again.



Behaving like children



What shocked me when I had problems with my eyes was the attitude of doctors.  We only have two eyes, so they are very precious.  If one goes, the other could be lost in an accident – and then where are you?



Seeing the Oncologist at the Cromwell Hospital, and him saying he had never seen Tamoxifen causing blindness was incredible.  He must have read up the original clinical trials, as the Chaplain had done.



Then when the second eye problems turned up, again I was shocked at the way the eye specialist I ended up with at the Royal Marsden was so dismissive of Prof. Guillon.  Later I took the greatest delight in sending an email with information about the well-documented research and papers that Guillon had produced.  On my next visit the specialist was so polite!



So don’t let doctors brow-beat you. They don’t know it all, and those that won’t listen to patients aren’t helping those of us with cancer.  Those who do listen – such as Michel Guillon – are treasures, and their expertise and reassurance are an incredible support.



Cancer Research UK says
Eye problems are possible long term side effects of tamoxifen, but “they are rare.  There have been reports of visual disturbances including corneal (front part of the eye) changes and retinopathy (non-inflammatory damage to the back of the eye, the retina).  Most eye problems go back to normal once Tamoxifen is stopped.  But blindness has occurred in a small number of people.  People taking tamoxifen are also thought to be at an increased risk of having cataracts (cloudy patches in the lens of the eye)”.


Dry Eye


‘Dry Eye” is a recognised side effect from drugs; causing soreness, burning, irritation and dryness.



An excellent eye-soother for our eyes is Rohto.  Along the way of my cancer journey, I keep on being put on different drugs, and they often produce runny, wet, painful eyes, with gritty residue that sticks up my eyelids.


Emma, who works for a medical PR company, recommended Rohto.  Knowing that her company tends to promote products that are medically-approved, I tried it out.


The liquid comes in tiny little plastic ‘bottles’, with one day’s dose in each.  It has a re-usable cap so you can carry this around in your pocket and use during the day.  After about three days, I suddenly realised that runny eyes disappeared.


Now, I no longer woke up with my eyelids stuck together, and the pain had gone.  Bliss!  As the lotion is very gentle, I keep it in the medicine chest and use it when I have painful eyes.  Rohto is sold around the world, so ask a good pharmacist for the drops.


Helpful Tip


This comes from the Clinical Advisor, a magazine for doctors and medical staff:


“I encourage patients using ophthalmic solutions for allergic conjunctivitis to store the drops in the refrigerator for even more soothing results”. — Donna Mariano, FNP, Wallingford, Ct. (161-7)   So probably worth trying for any of our eye problems, if you ask your advisor first.


Brows and lashes


If you lose eyebrows and eyelashes, they usually grow back again, but may be sparse and sandy. Talking to doctors at the French spa of La Roche Posay, famous for their cosmetics that help patients with birthmarks and burns, they gave me a tube of their mascara they have developed for cancer patients (trust the French to understand what women want!). One end had a white thickening gel, the other a brown colouring. Used together, I looked into the mirror and film-star eye lashes appeared like magic!


La Roche Posay products are just starting to come in to Britain, and you can find them in major Boots stores.  Or you can try any good chemist in France, Spain, Italy, or  mail order:  O’Connell’s Pharmacy, 2 Grafton Street, Dublin 2, Ireland Tel: 00 353 (01) 679 04 67.


After all the stress, you are bound to have lots of lines under the eyes. Elemis sent me their Pro-Collagen Wrinkle Smooth pen to try out. Cynic that I am, I tested this under one eye, and, after two weeks discovered, as they say ‘lines were visibly reduced’. So I stopped being a cynic and use it under both eyes!


Another good rescue remedy is iS Clinical’s eye cream. See under Face  category for contact details.




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Light therapy is forging ahead


Image via Wikipedia

Researchers experiment

with light therapy


Hospitals in Europe are offering a ‘new’ treatment – light therapy.

I say ‘new’ – because the Greeks were using light and sun to aid healing over two thousand years ago;  they knew the benefits of light therapy when you were sick.

Now, as well as hospitals, some  over-the-counter-remedies also make use of light.  It’s all happening!

The first time I saw light being used as therapy was at La Roche Posay.  I had gone there to get help with skin problems caused by cancer drugs.  Showing me around, Dr. Lemoine said “we are researching light therapy to treat scars from burns”, and ushered  me into a room with a soft coach, and batteries of different coloured lights shining down from the ceiling.

He explained that this wasn’t designed for my conditions, but as I was a journalist would I like to experience the different lights that their other patients would receive?  So they left me there for half an hour, whilst different lights played across the ceiling.  I felt relaxed and happy as I came out – and promptly forgot all about it.

But I did notice as I travelled around Europe for the best treatment to help me with side effects, that many of the state-of-the-art clinics I visited seemed to be expermenting with light.  For instance, in Germany  Klinic Bad Sulza had banks of special lights to treat patients with Psoriasis.

Now, Mentholatum, the pharmaceutical company with lots of innovative ideas, has produced two small, hand-held torch-like devices, which might help with the problem of spots and acne, particularly if these are a problem due to cancer treatment.

Intrigued?  Will light therapy work for you?

Possibly.  Especially if you suffer from Acne or Cold Sores.

The Mentholatum range has two little gadgets using special lights, which are targeted on those who suffer from either of these distressing conditions.  As they say, “light has the potential to induce effects that are either desirable (diagnostic, therapeutic) or undersirable (toxic).  It is the selection of light of a specific wavelength, intensity and dose which results in the controlled therapeutic and beneficial use of light therapy”.

For Acne, there is a portable light system, Clearlight.  The size of a torch,                                                                                             it provides targeted treatment for spots and acne

This emits what is called ‘blue light therapy’, which has been used extensively for years by dermatologists for the successful treatment of spots, acne and blemishes. It has been scientifically proven that blue light at the specific wavelength of 415nm kills spot causing bacteria.

Part of the OXY range, Clearlight harnesses the healing power of blue-light technology in a safe and convenient hand-held device for home use. The Clearlight penetrates to the root of P. acnes, killing spot-causing bacteria and helping prevent spots from erupting.

It’s kind to skin, as the light emits NO heat, and NO harmful UV rays. It does NOT cause drying, peeling or discomfort, either.

You use Clearlight to treat active breakouts, or whenever you feel a spot erupting, to visibly reduce the appearance of spots and acne.  It can be used with your daily spot treatment, and whenever you experience a spot outbreak.

To use, all you do is press the power button and place the Clearlight device over the spot. Listen for the beep indicating that the therapeutic light is at work. The device will automatically switch itself off at the end of the 3-minute treatment cycle. Use twice daily, morning and evening, for 3 minutes until your spot has cleared.  It costs £24.99.

But, do not use Oxy Clearlight if you suffer from a photosensitive disorder (sensitivity to sunlight) or are taking any medication that prevents you from being exposed to sunlight.

For Cold Sores they have a device called LipZor to help heal cold sores.

LipZor is a patented, portable electronic device using light therapy to treat these nasty erruptions.  The device uses ‘light’ of a specific wavelength: 1072 nanomtres – to target tissues around the cold sore and improve immunological function, helping boost and speed up the light healing process.

The makers also claim that if you use the device as soon as you feel that ominous tingle, LipZor might help prevent an outbreak.   Zapping the outbreak area with this portable device you stimulate the body’s immunological function and help speed up the healing process.

In clinical trials healing time was reduced by up to three days, and can be used during the tingling phase, or later on, when that horrid blister breaks out.

Unfortunately, just shining an electric torch on a cold sore isn’t going to do much good.  The science behind this gadget says that the wavelength it delivers is critical, as the light needs to hit the tissue in and around the cold sore, to be absorbed by the photoreceptors within the tissue cells.  But using the right wavelengths helps Nature promote the body’s own healing response.

LipZor costs £39, and is obtainable in good chemists, whose advice you should follow when first using the device.

Fast forward a few years

Currently Scientists are expermenting on using light to target and destroy cancer cells in mice.

Researchers have designed a light-based therapy that allows the selective destruction of tumour cells in mice without harming surrounding normal tissue. This method of cancer therapy could theoretically work against tumours in humans, such as those of the breast, lung, prostate, as well as cancer cells in the blood such as leukemias, say scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of NIH.

Current photodynamic therapy is not specific for cancer cells, resulting in damage to surrounding normal tissue. Therefore, the researchers in this study set out to develop a light therapy that could more accurately target cancer cells while sparing a greater number of normal cells, using photoimmunotherapy, or PIT.  This uses light to rapidly and selectively kill cancer cells.






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