When the reality of my situation first became clear, a few people suggested I look into cold capping, a cold pack filled helmet that I would wear on my head during chemo, in order to keep my hair. I had never heard of this before and assumed it was some kind of weird alternative treatment, a quick Google search came up with the page that said the cap cost $60 000, and that was when I forgot about it because I would gleefully shave my head for $60 000. I guess in the back of my head I knew there must be more affordable options than buying one out-right, but I wasn’t really thinking straight, and I assumed that it was something that really worked and was viable, somebody at the hospital would’ve told me about it or I would’ve heard about it with regards to the many people I know who have gone through chemotherapy in the last few years.
As time passed and I hung out more and more on bulletin boards I started to realize that this really was a thing. A few days ago I decided to research it for real, knowing that if I found out I should’ve done it afterwards, I would be very upset. The first thing I did was look for the price, it is $700 a month to rent one, so for me to have one for my four months of chemotherapy would be $2400. That’s a lot of money, but not insurmountable, so Adam and I did decide I should do a little more research. Mostly I looked into the Penguin cold cap, because this seems to be the most popular and reliable one.
I read bulletin boards, spoke to a chemo nurse at my clinic, and emailed a local woman with the same chemo regimen as me who had tried it.
Ultimately, I’ve decided not to do it.
It’s not a reflection on how upset I am to lose my hair, because I’m heartbroken.
1. I already have very thin fine hair (hard to tell, because I wear it curly a lot of product), and it seems all of people that do this have a fair amount of shedding. With a full head of think hair that might be okay, but I can put all my hair in an infant size ponytail holder! If I shed a lot, it won’t be much better than losing my hair anyway. The woman I spoke to said she lost lots of her hair. Because she had piles of long hair she still said she had a lot of hair and nobody that didn’t know her noticed. If I lost half my hair (or even a quarter), it would be very obvious and I would want to wear a wig or hat anyway!
2. As hard as it is, I have already gotten my head around losing my hair. I have probably spent $600 on wigs and other supplies (in addition to wigs my mom bought me), and of course none of that is returnable. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the thought and effort that went towards picking these things. It was part of the process of accepting that I have cancer, I will need chemotherapy, and I will lose my hair. That was a hard process to go through and I don’t want to turn back on it, especially considering that it doesn’t seem likely that it would be particularly effective at me being able to look the way I like to look.
3. I called my Chemo Clinic, they were not very supportive. They said that that they have only had one patient ever use it, and shewasn’t happy with it. It takes a fair amount of assistance to put it on, and keep up the cold packs which have to be changed every 20 minutes. Even if I do get lifts to and from every chemo, I highly doubt that I will have someone sitting with me for the three hours every time (and I don’t want that, so don’t feel sorry for me. I would have no problem finding people to sit with me during chemo, but I do better alone at the sort of things), and since the clinic seemed unsupportive, I’m not counting on them to help me with this. I will have an IV in one arm, and doubt I will be able to manage it myself.
A lot of people are very happy with it, and if my hair was thicker and fuller and I knew that I would have someone with me for all my infusions, or I was going to a clinic that was used to them and very helpful with them, maybe I would feel differently. I definitely think it’s worth looking into for somebody going into chemo and expecting to lose their hair, if they can afford it and are interested.
I feel better now that I have looked into it a bit more thoroughly, and decided it’s not for me.