I was diagnosed at age 34 with breast cancer. I was devastated to get the news, but from that day on my journey in life had changed. I was on the “beat cancer trip!”. It was not easy, but being surrounded by friends and family, I knew I was going to be fine. Now because I was 34 and had not had children yet, my oncologist had suggested doing egg retrieval at a fertility clinic because chemo “might kill everything”. So, 2 weeks after having a mastectomy, I was off to Toronto for another 2 weeks for fertility treatment. During this time, I finally had some time to think. I was told that the same medicine (chemo) that was going to kill the cancer, was also going to make me lose my hair. Me, being a super positive person would joke around about the possible Halloween costumes I could “rock” while being bald, but deep down I was a wreck. To me, having a mastectomy was nothing, I still looked the same, but BALD, that was another story! Everyone would know that I was sick and that I was battling cancer. I didn’t want to look like that. I felt like the more I looked like myself, the better I would be… but what could I do?
My prayers had been answered! While in Toronto, my sister in law had messaged me and told me she had been talking to her sister in law and found out that her best friend had kept her hair to chemo last year. This was a turning point for me. This girl was from London, England and we had a great chat. After getting off the phone with her, I started my research, and sure enough there is equipment out there called “cold caps”, who knew!? I started looking at the different companies, but quickly came to a decision that I would use “Arctic Cold Caps”. They seemed to have everything covered. They had 8 caps instead of 6, a cooler, a satin pillowcase, wide tooth comb, you name it, they included it. Plus, they were very affordable compared to some other companies.
The process is not that bad, the day before my chemo treatment, I would go to my local Praxair company and get 40lbs of dry ice. I would fill up 8 baggies with dry ice, then I would put one bag in each “helmet”, the rest of the ice went in the bottom of the cooler. The day of chemo I would have to wear the cold caps an hour before my chemo, all throughout my treatment and then a minimum of 4 hours after. The whole idea of the process is that you are giving your scalp “hypothermia”, closing off the hair follicle and therefore not allowing the chemo to get to the root of your hair – keeping your hair! It was amazing, my hair was thin, but I kept most of it!! I contacted my local news for a few write ups about it (I’ll attach the links below in case anyone wants to read a bit more). I wanted people to know that there are options out there, and you do NOT have to lose your hair to chemo anymore! Since then I have partnered up with another survivor and we held a fundraiser here in the Sault and we are paying for the equipment to keep your hair if people choose to do so! I wouldn’t have been able to afford it without the help of my mom. When not working, funds are low, so that is why we want to help others!