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Diz

Claywork While Going Thru Chemo

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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?

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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

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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.

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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)

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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

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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.

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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

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@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 :)

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