Jump to content
Diz

Claywork While Going Thru Chemo

Recommended Posts

I have a couple friends who have recently been diagnosed with cancer. Both will be starting the chemo regimen.  Neither will  work while going thru chemo, and they are focused on keeping positive thoughts and staying as active as their health will allow.  Both have a bit of clay experience and have wondered about working in the clay studio at our local art center.  I feel that the studio would be a calming and relaxing place for them but whether they work in the studio or at home with clay, I have concerns about possible negative health effects since the chemo will cause changes in their immune system.  Because of the dust concerns as well as mold (in clay) etc., should I suggest they perhaps explore a different art medium for now?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest JBaymore

They should take a list (and MSDSs) of the potential environmental contaminants in that studio (what is used there by everyone), a list of what they will have very close contact with (clay and slip and glaze), info on the kiln effluents that might get into the space (depending on quality of ventilation) and then let their physicians decide.  Make sure the physicians have a detailed and realistic understanding of what ceramists work with (most don't).

 

I teach this toxicology stuff at the college level.  An Internet forum is not the place for this kind of advice...... as well intentioned as it might be.  Same advice goes to anyone that has any kind of health concerns.

 

If you want the best advice on this subject,.... get a referral to an occupational health specialist MD, and then get them in consult with the oncologist(s).

 

best,

 

.......................john

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kudos to you Diz for your concern for your friends. Sucks going through ca treatments, your friends are fortunate to have you helping them through it.  All the best to them and hugs to you all.


 


+1 for what John said re safety concerns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everything in clay has only minimal influence on a healthy body. But there is no denying the exposure to bacterial, mold etc is much higher even in the cleanest pottery studio. A fresh bag of clay might be less harmful but the amount of exposure to other things in the environment seems very dangerous to someone with essentially no immune system.

Ask the doctor if walking around barefoot in the grass is recommended-- if no, pottery is likely to be even worse. If that is fine, mention the other aspects of exposure risks (dust, molds, people)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a compromised immune system with my MS, the medicine I take is really hard on my body.  I pick up anything that if floating around and it takes me 2 or 3 times longer to get over it.  I have never had any problems come from working in my studio but  my immune system is use to all of the mold and dust.  If they have been around clay all the time they probably wouldn't have any problems.  Working with clay at home is a great idea, I think being around the other people at the studio could cause more problems than the clay.  May be you could start a small clay group and work together,  be sure to ask the doctor first, a chemo compromised immune system could be different than my autoimmune disease.    Denice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the comments  - and pretty much what I expected answers to be - it's lousy as one of the gals started in the studio  recently and really loves to work in clay.  Hopefully her Dr will give his blessing to work in clay at home as she progresses thru her treatment.  Otherwise it can be a reward (and celebration) when she finally reaches the end of her chemo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well Dr's advice is important here as well as the overall dust management of the studio in question.  But I can tell you that at our group studio we have had any number of people in cancer treatment come in and use the studio and the emotional therapeutic value has been enormous for those people. This has also be true of people with other illnesses and infirmities. Lots to be said for the mind body connection.    all the best to your friends.    rakuku

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Diz I'd go with John's counsel on this...much better to make a professionally advised decision than depend on advice from even the well-meaning people here on the forum.

From my experience in my own family, toxicology isn't the only challenge. Chemo can completely suck the energy out of an individual making it difficult to do even basic things that involve arm/hand movement. It may not be an issue with your friends, but just be aware that limits shouldn't become a demoralizing influence (i.e. biting off more than they can handle at first).

 

Sculpey may be another option for small projects. If nothing else, it would be easier to identify the physical make-up of the material to share with a physician...and it lends itself well to small projects and easy clean-up.

Count me in that camp that considers (safe) clay work to be good therapy,

Paul :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi.  I am a teacher at a community education center.  I teach adults.  Recently I had two new students who dropped out after 2 class times.  They both said they had problems with the mold - one is in her late 60's and has autoimmune difficulties.   To prevent this problem (she was sick for 3 days after the second class) in the future, do you think that the program description should say something about mold in clay? Or if you have an autoimmune disease please check with your doctor?  Or do you think that someone with an autoimmune problem should check with their Dr. before signing up for the class?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In 27 years of working with clay in schools and a community studio, I've only ever had one student be affected by the mold in clay. I don't think it's very common, and you don't want to scare people away by putting too much emphasis on it. You don't want people with common seasonal mold allergies to avoid the class because they think it will affect them. I've got those allergies, but have never had a problem in the studio, nor do my current students, many of whom have bad seasonal allergies. Autoimmune issues are a whole different ballgame, so I would keep any policy or warnings very specific to that realm. I would also do some checking to determine if it was the actual moist clay causing the problem, or something else, like the slop buckets or the building itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

She came to the first class and had no problem, her bag of clay was just fine.  The next week the red clay in her bag was was splotched in grey mold, I think from being open, then closed for the week.  That's when she started having trouble.  I told the class that mold was a part of clay, and to most people it was like mold on cheese, no big deal.  I also said if people reacted to mold, or if they wanted to, they should take a claritin or benedryl.   She didn't tell me till later - after she dropped the class about having an autoimmune problem.   

I have been very diligent about keeping the slop in the buckets to a minimum, they were cleared out over winter break.  

Maybe mentioning mold on the first day of class would be enough. 

Edited by mnnaj

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you mention mold, be sure to mention that for the VAST majority of people it has a beneficial affect on clay with no adverse affect on humans.  We are not eating the clay, it is wet, so we are not breathing the clay.  Any residual mold will be completely and utterly destroyed in the kiln.  

People hear mold and they freak out, so maybe even refer to it as fungi, because it is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over the years, dealing with students and myself I have found most clay mold not to be a problem. I do however, caution that some of the materials folks have a tendency to use, like paper towels, and old rags to clean up and keep pots and clay damp can be problematic. I have found pockets in slake buckets where a piece of paper towel or and old rag has been left to rot. This pocket when burst would have a terrible stink, and some spores in the gas. Black mold is not great stuff and always organic materials in the clay will have a dark black mold. I personally have not had any problems, but I would imagine if someone is immune weakened, they may react.

I have had several students on the other hand observe the same as I have, that often minor cuts will often heal much faster when working with the clay than trying to avoid it.

 

IMHO

best,

Pres

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your comments, I've been in contact with the school administration.  For right now I will address it on a case by case basis, perhaps bring it up during orientation first day.

Nancy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.