Location: Ohio, USA
Cancer type: Breast
Drug type: Taxol
Hair type: Long
"I know that even though I lost a good portion of my hair, I am still way farther ahead than I would have been if I would have gone completely bald. Plus….I believe that scalp cooling allowed me to keep some normalcy throughout my treatments so that I did not feel like a cancer patient, and helped me keep a more positive outlook on a scary diagnosis and treatment process."
My chemotherapy treatments started in April 2019. I was not informed about scalp cooling through the Cleveland Clinic, I actually read about it in one of the Facebook support groups that I joined and then became determined to learn as much as I could about scalp cooling in the spirit of saving my hair. Once I had some information, I approached my breast surgeon and oncologist about scalp cooling. My breast surgeon indicated that the people she knew that had done it, were not successful and my oncologist had never had a patient do scalp cooling so she was unable to advise me on the process. I did my own digging and learned that Cleveland Clinic had actually listed scalp cooling on its top ten list of medical innovations the year before and learned that they had a few Paxman machines at the Taussig Cancer Center downtown.
I then asked my breast surgeons nurse advocate to help put me in contact with the Paxman representative for the Cleveland Clinic. I contacted her and she agreed to meet me at a Panera location to give me more information, answer my questions, and personally fit me for my cap and then helped to advise my oncologists office on the completion of the appropriate paperwork. I remember telling my oncologist that I intended to do the scalp cooling. she initially was not sure she would be able to continue to treat me. I told her that I really liked her approach from an oncology perspective and that we could learn together. she became very supportive through the process and let me be treated downtown so I could use the Paxman system, she was amazed at the success. She used to tell me that the hair I retained was the normal thickness for most people and still to this day, every time I go back for a follow up visit, she always comments on my hair.
Week 6 - Weekly Taxol and Herceptin
Week 12 - Weekly Taxol and Herceptin
Week 12 - Post Final Chemo
Week 16 - 4 Weeks PFC
I had learned as much as I could to prepare myself for the experience. I remember taking some pain medication about 20 minutes before the machine started. The first 10 minutes I just closed my eyes and went to my happy place. Once it reached the appropriate temperature, my head became kind of numb but it was tolerable. I felt that for the little bit of discomfort I had to try to save my hair, that it was totally worth it. It was actually a lot easier than I had expected. I always brought an extra large mug of hot tea to drink during my treatments and made sure to drink lots of water after my treatments. I feel like this helped to keep me warm and wash all of the toxins out of my body to minimize the side effects.
I washed my hair only once a week and always rinsed it the afternoon after my treatment. I was never one to use hair dryers or irons very much so the more you can minimize using these things on your hair, the more healthy it will be. I never used these items during or post treatment until the shedding stopped. I used a silk pillowcase during and after my treatments.
I am extremely happy with my results and would do it all over again. I know that even though I lost a good portion of my hair, I am still way farther ahead than I would have been if I would have gone completely bald. Plus….I believe that scalp cooling allowed me to keep some normalcy throughout my treatments so that I did not feel like a cancer patient, and helped me keep a more positive outlook on a scary diagnosis and treatment process.
"I would like to say thank you to Dr. Michelle Treasure of the Cleveland Clinic who is my oncologist. I know at first she was not entirely sure she could support someone doing the scalp cooling but her willingness to enable me to receive the treatment in a different location than most of her patients and her encouragement throughout the entire chemo process made a huge difference along this very scary journey for me. I appreciate everything she and her team of nurses did to ensure I could get treated at the Taussig Cancer Center and make something happen that did not follow their normal protocols. I will be forever grateful."