A treat that went wrong

Hi everyone

I feel I need to have a rant sorry. My husband treated me and a friend (which I took my sister as she helped me a lot when I was really ill) to a spa voucher, last October for our 25th wedding anniversary. So having had a busy few months I booked it for yesterday. It was for us to have a facial and a neck, shoulder and back massage. The place was in Nantwich which is 40 minutes from our home. We had a lovely day together before, had lunch out and a look around Nantwich which was lovely. We went to the spa place looking forward to our pampering. We had to fill out a health questionnaire before and of course they ask if you have had any operations, undergone or having any treatments, and what medication do you take. I was honest and said that I had had a hysterectomy for OC and see my oncologist every 3 months, but have been clear since finishing my treatment in Dec 2011 (14 months ago). They took my sister to her treatment room and then a few minutes later took me to mine. Then she looked at my health questionnaire and said she would have to talk to her manager about whether they could go ahead with my massage and facial. when she returned she said she was sorry but it was company policy that they can't do anything until I'd been clear of the cancer for over 2 years. I was really upset, and I said can you not even give me a facial? They said no sorry it is our policy and they offered to do my finger nails for me by way of compensation. I couldn't walk out because my sister was having her massage at this point, so I had to just have my nails done and sit and wait for her to finish. I can't understand this, since finishing my chemo in Dec 2011 I've had 2 facials at different places and a back massage, done by a person who helps out at the little salon based in our local cancer unit and she had no problem with it. I know in the scheme of things this is a trivial matter. I felt really upset and felt almost stigmatised for having had cancer. Thanks for letting me have rant.

16 Replies

  • This is ridiculous. There's information I believe on MacMillan and Breast Cancer Care - it's apparently to do with the insurance policy that they have to have.

    I would be tempted to complain to Trading Standards - much will depend on whether your husband told them you had been ill when he bought the voucher.

    I'm sorry this happened.


  • Rant away Didy. What a horrible outcome from a lovely thoughtful treat. I was told I couldn't have any beauty treatments when I was on chemotherapy but didn't realise there would be restrictions for another 2 years.

    I'm rather taken aback that they didn't offer you your money back. It would have been good for their ongoing reputation and business to have made an ex gratia refund given the circumstances. I bet you won't be going back there or recommending them to anyone so they've seriously lost out on potential custom in the future.

    What spa was it? I think we'll all make sure we don't book there!

    xxx love Annie

  • Hi

    I was given a gift voucher for a spa treatment for Christmas and had similar problems. Fortunately, before I booked anything. I was told that they couldn't do anything that involves massage. They could give me a manicure, pedicure, facial (without shoulder massage) or any body wrap that didn't involve massage. When I queried this, as I had regular reflexology. Shiatsu massage through a local cancer charity and massage organised through the Macmillan centre, within the hospital cancer treatment centre, I was told it was for insurance reasons. I was amazed! I booked a wrap, then had to cancel as I was taken into hospital the next day. Still not used my voucher, and they expire in a year from purchase, which could mean if they are awkward about the fact I'm on chemo, I can't use it. I can't even let my daughter use it, as she is under 16! It makes you mad!


  • Thank you for your replies. My husband bought the voucher through travel zoo. I should have mentioned it to the spa when I rang up to make the appointment I just didn't think it would be an issue. I will know to mention it next time. Sometimes if you ring them up and explain the problem they will extend the vouchers redemption time. Maybe there should be guidelines that are all the same, so you know we're you stand on this issue, because it seems some will and some won't so you don't know where you stand.



  • I think they should make it clear on their adverts that some people are exempt, if I was you I'd make a complaint and bring out your cancer card (they may off you a freebie) beat wishes love x G x :-)

  • its sad... im having massage least once a 3 months and had to have a letter from my GP sauing that i can have treatment. during chemo i wasnt allowed but 6 months after last chemo i started with massage.

    mind you my husband took me to spain swimming with delphins and when we got there they said i cant because of cancer....my husband filled health questionnaire back in UK and been in contact with them. good job we didnt pay anything ahead....

  • Hi There Didy,

    I have been a little luckier, I booked a spa break with my sister in a hotel with a spa. I filled in a health questionnaire and was totally honest. I had a wonderful hot stone massage, the girl who gave it discussed my health prior to the massage, and explained that she had received some specific 'oncology' training relating to massage, so I guess it may be a case of checking whether the spa staff have received this training before booking. I didn't , but presume I just fell lucky. So sorry your spa didn't work out for you, I can imagine your disappointment, but don't give up hope, perhaps look for somewhere where they have had this training. We all deserve and need treats like this, so wishing you luck in future,

    lots of love

    Jan x

  • That is SO unfair. Not only am I so sorry for you for this horrible experience, Didy, but my business head is shaking too. Spas should at the very least have a range of therapies that they have validated with their insurance companies - all things are insurable and (like with us and travel insurance) its just a question of deciding to do it, balancing benefit with cost. Some smart spa could corner the market in pampering us ladies because this would affect all female cancer sufferers...

    Having a choice to pay a small premium on a cost f massage would be one possibility, Otherwise one is left only with the choice of omitting to tell them - which puts us (a) at some risk and (b) officially in the wrong. So unfair.


    Sue xxx

  • It seems so wrong that the cancer specialist like macmillan provide massage and treatments, yet a spa, which is supposed to make you feel good, won't do it! I did use a spa a few years ago, and she just said she couldn't do a full body massage, because i t was near the cancer site. Mind you I'm like Chris and make use of the people providing treatments at the local support group. We all need a special treat sometimes......

  • Dear Didy I think I know which one you went too. I was looking it up on the internet and when inquiring I had too fill a form out before they would give me an appointment, by the time I filled it in Guess what Yes but fortunately I was only on my settee. What a shame to spoil a wonderful day. Shame on them.

    Regards Barbara.

  • Hi Didy

    Outrageous! I think you could name and shame on here, anyone in the area can boycott, or even better, ask to leave some BEAT cards in their foyer, with an info leaflet, saying we wouldn't want any of their customers to get OC, as it would preclude them getting treatment there!

    Just a thought ..........

    Love Wendy xx

  • I go to Penny Brohn and have massages, they know all about cancer does not seem to be a problem. I also had a shoulder massage while actually having chemo. put in.what a huge disappointment for you Didy I would tell them what I thought in no uncertain terms.and show them all our responses.love Jenny

  • I too have fallen foul of this one and ended up having a pedicure instead. They said it was because I was having chemo. As several of you ladies have mentioned, several cancer support charities provide complementary therapies including aromatherapy massage, it is a great pity because therapies like this are a great benefit to us. Very disapointing for you.



  • Hi thank you for all your support, the spa was a place called Skin Health Spa in Nantwich. Like some of you have said aromatherapy massages are offered by cancer support charities. If they are worried about being sued why don't they just get us to sign a disclaimer form absolving them of any responsibility. My travel insurance says that if anything happens to me abroad that is related to my OC I cannot claim on the insurance, so why not have something similar for this. They could have offered to let me come back in 6 months, when their policy would allow me to have the treatment, but I wasn't offered anything else other than to do my nails, they could'nt even offer me a pedicure as they said they hadn't the equipment to offer that. What sort of a spa place can't even offer a pedicure! You live and learn, always ask before you go what their policy is on treatments for people who have or have had cancer. Thanks again for all your comments. Luv Didy xx

  • Sometimes it makes you feel like a leper and you should carry a bell ringing it and saying "unclean unclean" Its like being a social leper being excluded from normal treats that every one else can get willy, nilly! I had the same experience when I went away with my 3 daughters last year to a fancy hotel, they would not give me a back massage either. As if a massage will spread cancer!!!It beggars belief.

  • Hi Didy - just read this. I bought a 'deal' for a 2-day stay at a hotel and spa in the Lake District as a treat for my sister (who had just finished chemo for Hodgkins lymphoma) and myself (I was on the mend following major surgery just before Xmas). As a treat we had a back and neck massage at the hotel. We had to fill in questionnaires and we were both honest about health issues. The lady didn't have a problem with the massage and it was really lovely. We also made full use of the sauna, steam room and jacuzzis and pool. I don't think they were particularly concerned about either my sister's chemo treatment or my surgery as long a we both felt well and signed the health declaration.

    Why can't people just let us make up our own minds about what is good for us!! As long as we have checked with our doctors, that's fine by me. I should also point out that my hospital oncology team run a charity which provide free spa treatments for patients and I have had 2 such treatments, each within a few months of finished chemo!!

    We need, and DESERVE, every bit of pampering we can get!! Hope you are able to book another spa treatment, at a more understanding venue real soon - you deserve it!

    love Colette


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