It may seem vain but your hair is a crucial part of who you are. It is part of your identity and part of how people perceive you before they talk to you. I personally have had a long relationship with my hair. I like to make a statement. My hair helps me feel strong, confident, sometimes regal, sometimes soft, sometimes beautiful. So when I got the results from my oncotype test and my doctor said she recommended chemo and said I will 100% lose my hair, I started to cry.
I was losing again, another part of me. I had no control.
Now, the doctor did give me the option of NOT doing chemo. In my particular case, she said it was a “luxury” (quoting the doc) to have chemo in my case. But even thought my numbers looked great she still recommended chemo. To put things in perspective, if I went without any kind of treatment, my percentage of recurrence would be 21%. With hormone treatment, which I’ll take regardless for 9-10 years, it lowered my chance to 7%. But with chemo, my changes went down to 1%. You can’t beat that.
She suggested I slept on it, and consider just doing this one last push and finish the treatment and cover all my basis. She also suggested I look into Cold Caps therapy.
Cold cap therapy is a relatively new technology used to protect the scalp during chemo and minimize the hair loss. Apparently it started in Europe and it’s pretty new in the US. After doing a lot of research, I decided I was going to move forward with chemo – and finish the race – and try one of these companies to save some of my hair. The statistics show you keep about 70% of your hair using these cold caps.
The catch is, well, it’s freaking COLD. The caps have to be at -32F when they go on your head. Freezing temperature. This prevents the chemo medication from getting into the follicles in the scalp and preserve as much hair as possible. The cap needs to be super cold and super tight. You wet your hair first, then cover your ears and forehead so you don’t get freeze burns. Then you put the neoprene cap, then Velcro straps to make sure it touches all parts of your head and then a gorgeous silver insulation cap that goes over all of it.
The first 5 min feels like you want to punch something you and want to rip it off. Too cold to stand, but eventually, after about 5-10 min you get use to it. And by the time you’re feeling at ease, times up, it’s time to switch again. Every 25 min you have to switch caps. This is to make sure your head is always, well, frozen.
The other thing is that you have to have this cap for 50 min prior treatment, then throughout the treatment, which is about 2-3 hours, and then for another 3-4 hours after you get home.
So, to preserve a little bit of myself, be able to look at the mirror and still see me, I need to endure this 8-9 hour freezing my a$$ off process. It may seem silly to you while you read this, “Just let it go Sandra! It’s not worth it”, but after so much has been taken from you, for so many months, you do need to have control over something, even if it’s as small and as vain as hair.
So, here I am, trying these caps on and for my 4 chemo sessions and let’s see how it goes. I’ll be taking on the name of “Ice Ice Baby” – to honor my 80’s obsession, NOT the rapper.
NEXT > I’m coming out