Location: Minnesota, USA
Cancer type: BILATERAL BREAST CANCER (3 total tumors): Left Side HER2+/HR- with axillary lymph node involvement; Right side HER2-/HR+ (2 tumors)
Drug type: Taxotere (docetaxel) 160mg, Carboplatin 900 mg, Herceptin (trastuzumab) 567 mg, Perjeta (pertuzumab) 420mg
Hair type: Thick, medium-long length
"The journey with cancer isn’t fun or enjoyable but I’m thankful everyday to Paxman for allowing me to keep some sense of normalcy in my life, not only for me, but for our children and family. "
I am a physical therapist from Minnesota. I live at home with my husband and 3 young children. I initially found the lump in my left breast by accident. Upon contacting my primary care provider, I was scheduled for a mammogram. At that time, they not only determined the area I had found was concerning, but found two spots on my right side that required further evaluation as well. I underwent 6 total biopsies and opted to have a second opinion due to the complexity of my situation. When all of the testing was done, I was found to have one lesion in my left breast approximately 3.5cm in size that was ER-/PR-/HER2+ and two separate lesions in my right breast, both between 1 and 1.5cm in size that were ER+/PR+/HER2-. My PET scan also showed some involvement in my left axillary lymph nodes.
After meeting with my care team to determine the plan of attack, it was decided completing chemotherapy first was in my best interest. Things moved quite quickly and within a few days, I was ready to start my first treatment. One of the visits I had before starting treatment, was with a nurse whose job was to introduce me to and help fit me for the cooling cap and walk me through the process. It was easy to see she had done this before and we breezed right through it. Her recommendation to sacrifice some of the hair along my ears and neck for overall better contact proved invaluable. She also recommended the Paxman Facebook group as a good resource for all things chemotherapy and scalp cooling related. I found my ordering experience though the hub to be seamless and easy, which was quite appreciated with all of the other chaos happening in my life. They were able to ship my cap directly to the hotel at which I was staying to ensure I’d have it before I started treatment.
My first day of treatment was filled with anxiety and uncertainty. The nurses helped me time things out so I started prepping my hair with water and conditioner approximately 30 minutes before I needed to start my pre-cooling. I used the sink to completely soak my head and my husband helped me apply the cap. Overall, my first day was much more manageable than I had expected. The timing and sequencing of my drug administration meant that once my infusions were finished, I still needed to wait the 90 minutes for the post-cooling time. I was the last one to leave the infusion center that day after a long 8.5 hour day in the chair! With each subsequent treatment, I found the cap to be easier to use and the process more efficient. At the start of my 3rd session, they informed me they were able to change the order in which my drugs were administered, allowing my drugs which didn’t need the cap to be given during my post-treatment cooling time, thus significantly shortening my day. It was a very welcomed change. I used an elastic band during my treatments to help ensure good contact along the crown of my head and each night before treatment, I practiced putting the cap on. I found that the practice helped remind me what a good fit felt like before I got to treatment the next day. I also requested Tylenol and medication for anxiety prior to each treatment. While these didn’t eliminate all of my discomfort and worries, they certainly helped and made things much more manageable.
Between treatments 2 and 3, approximately 28-30 days from the start of treatment, I started to shed fairly heavily. It lasted between 2 and 3 weeks before it slowed. I continued to have more-than-usual shedding throughout my treatments until 3-4 weeks after my final chemotherapy treatment, but overall I’d estimate that I was able to retain approximately 70% of my hair. Although I could tell my hair felt thin, the only areas of complete loss were small areas above my ears and along the base of my scalp at my neck where the cap didn’t quite cover and those were easily hidden with a ball cap, wide headband or loose ponytail. I washed my hair once per week using cold water and the Paxman products. I did not use any form of heat on it for the duration of treatments, slept with a silk pillowcase and always wore it in a low, loose braid, both during the day and at night. I had minimal tangling and used a wide-toothed comb at least twice per day to remove any loose strands.
3 Weeks Post Final Chemo
4 Months Post Final Chemo
Just like my cancer diagnosis, the Paxman Scalp Cooling System truly was a life-changing experience. It brought light and hope to me during a time of fear and uncertainty. I was able to make it through all of my chemotherapy treatments without most people knowing what I was dealing with, giving me time to understand and come to terms with things on my own time and share when I was ready. The journey with cancer isn’t fun or enjoyable but I’m thankful everyday to Paxman for allowing me to keep some sense of normalcy in my life, not only for me, but for our children and family.
"I’d like to send a thank you to Nurse Susan at the Mayo Clinic Rochester Oncology Department. You were such a calming presence during a time of chaos and uncertainty. Your gentle demeanour and silent confidence made me feel much more at ease about something that seemed so daunting and scary. I owe so much of my success with the cap to you and I can’t thank you enough. I’d also like to send a thank you to my husband Justin. From tightening up my cooling cap to managing our crazy household when I was gone or didn’t feel well and everything else in between, your unwavering love and support since my diagnosis has only solidified everything I already knew about you and made me love you even more. I couldn’t have done this without you. I love you so much!"