Friday, December 27, 2019

How I Saved my Hair During Chemo Using Penguin Cold Caps

How To Save Your Hair During Chemo!

Thankfully, I did NOT listen to the Naysayers:

 "I've never seen it work, and it's very painful and just leaves patches of hair on your head."
"It is a scam - She's being scammed!" 
"It doesn't work - they prey on the vulnerable making the women think it works."

Besides fearing for your life, one of the first horrors that come to mind when you hear the Big C word is losing your hair. As if you didn't have enough to worry about! This is the number one reason that people decline chemotherapy treatments - fear of going bald!

Cold Capping technology was developed in the UK years ago! This much-needed technology was finally approved by the FDA in 2017.

I have to admit that I seriously thought of not going forward with chemotherapy just to avoid going bald.

Oddly enough, I remembered my good friend telling me about this cold capping therapy seen on The Doctors TV show, where this woman retained a full head of hair after enduring rounds of chemo. Of course, I never thought that I would need this. I just sort of put it in my back pocket.

What is Cold Capping?
Cold Capping is a scalp cooling technology that minimizes hair loss during chemotherapy treatments, with the use of a specially-designed cap placed on your head at a certain temperature for a specific time period, depending on your chemotherapy regimen.

Cold Capping works by narrowing the blood vessels under the scalp, preventing the chemotherapy from reaching the hair follicles.

Cold caps are only worn on the day of Chemotherapy treatment.

There are 2 basic methods of cold capping out on the US market today:
  •  Scalp Cooling System provided as a service by the hospital.
    • There are 2 companies, Paxman and Dignicap,  that provide cooling systems to hospitals. There is a fee for the cap and service. The hospital generally provides assistance with the attachment of the cap to your head.
    • This method is completely dependent on your hospital providing this service.
    • Only 1 cap needs to be attached during the chemo session.
    • This is less stressful than the manual cold capping systems.
    • Cap time is significantly less than the manual capping process.
    • Results are not as impressive as the manual cold capping systems.
  • Manual Cold Capping process 
    • There are a few manual cold cap systems available in the US: Penguin Cold Caps, Arctic Cold Caps, and Polar Cold Caps to name a few.
    • Manual cold caps are changed every 20-25 minutes, starting an hour before chemotherapy begins, during chemo and can be up to 5 hours after chemo ends. 
    • The entire cold capping process is your responsibility.
    • The patient needs a couple of people for timing, rotating the caps in the cooler and a capper to attach the cap to the patient's head.
    • The team will need to educate themselves by way of You Tube videos and educational literature/videos from the company that is chosen.
Cold Capping Truths
  • Scalp Cooling Systems provided by the hospital-there are only select hospitals that provide this.
    • You will lose hair just hopefully not enough to be noticeable.
    • The Cold Cap is very, very cold during the first 10-15 minutes which can be extremely uncomfortable until the scalp turns numb.
    • Your success depends on how well the cap fits to your head and if it was attached correctly.
    • Your success also depends on following the rules from the company chosen.
    • The Manual cold capping systems have a better success rate as to how much hair you can save. 
    • No hair dye up until 6 months after chemotherapy
  • Manual Cold Capping process
    • You will lose hair but generally not enough to be noticeable.
    • The Cold Cap is very, very cold during the first 10-15 minutes which can be extremely uncomfortable until the scalp turns numb. This pain only lasts with the first cap attached to your head and generally not with each successive cap attached during the day.
    • Your success depends on the dedication and skills of your capper and their ability to properly place the cap onto your head.
    • Your success depends on following the rules provided by the company to ensure success such as washing hair one time a week, etc...
    • No hair dye up until 6 months after chemotherapy
    • It is expensive, but it is worth it!
    • There is an organization that offers financial assistance if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Cold Capping Expectations
  • Cold capping results seem to vary by method, by patient, by chemo regimen and by dedication.
  • The results always involve losing hair, whether it's a light shedding or heavy shedding.
  • Following the rules provided by the company really boosts your chance of success no matter how inconvenient these rules can be.
  • 'Babying' your hair from the beginning of chemo until at least 6 months post chemo is a requirement for success. 
You've decided that you want to try Cold Capping - Now What?!

Step 1: Ask your doctor if your hospital has a Scalp Cooling system available for use.
Step 2: If your hospital doesn't have a scalp cooling system, proceed to researching manual capping systems.
Step 3: Or you can take my recommendation and use Penguin Cold Caps - Link to Penguin Cold Caps  ( I have NO monetary affiliation with Penguin - this was the most recommended by the Cold Capping Group on Facebook)

The Penguin Cold Caps company can ship quickly to meet your needs.

My Success with Penguin Cold Caps

After discovering Breast Cancer and joining a cold capping group on Facebook, I chose Penguin Cold Caps as my cold capping system.

From the first whispers of possible chemotherapy, my hair was my biggest concern.

I have spoken with many women, and the general consensus is that women would rather lose a breast than their hair. I could relate!

My chemo regimen for Breast Cancer was Taxotere and Cytoxan, which cause 100% hair loss.

From the 1st round of through the 3rd round, the shedding of hair was minimal. Everyone gasped when they would meet up with me expecting to see this cancer-stricken, bald, sickly woman.

Here is a picture from my 3rd round of chemo where some friends joined me for support:

After the 4th round of chemo, my hair started to fall at an alarming rate. I continued to follow the rules about 1 washing per week, no roughhousing with the hair, no blow drying, no sudsing the hair, delicate washing, no shower head use, no hair cuts, no hair dye, and the list goes on!

My hair was shedding heavily from about 4 weeks post chemo to about 20 weeks post chemo.

It never fell out in clumps which was a great thing - all over distribution.

At one point, I had a big thinning patch on the back of my head. I was able to use Toppik to disguise it.

Just when I thought OH BOY, THIS IS NOT LOOKING GOOD, my hair started growing back in the thinned patch.

I am thankful every. single. day. that I have my hair. I can go to work, go shopping without having people stare at me.

I am not going to lie - Cold Capping is NOT easy. It is VERY stressful obtaining the dry ice, scheduling my friends around the chemo dates, babying my hair the better part of a year, and worrying that it would not work.

Was it worth it!?!? ABSOLUTELY!

Cold Capping with Penguin Cold Caps was a GREAT SUCCESS!

Timeline Photos:

Chemo Round 1 on April 22, 2019.
Chemo Round 2 on May 14, 2019.
Below picture on May 25, 2019:

Chemo Round 3 on June 12, 2019.
Chemo Round 4 on July 3, 2019.
Below picture on July 27, 2019 (3 weeks Post Final Chemo):

Below picture on August 23, 2019 (7 weeks Post Final Chemo):

Below is a picture of me at the end of October (16 weeks Post Final Chemo) being honored for my Breast Cancer battle during our Divali Celebration:

Below is a picture of me on January 4, 2020 (26 weeks Post Final Chemo):

Link to Penguin Cold Caps

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