Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chemo and Hair Loss

It is likely that I will lose my hair from the chemo. Obviously this distresses me. Its not that I have such great hair, but none? That's a biggie. The chemo nurse also told me it is likely to come back white. Also, it might not start growing back for a year when I finish the herceptin. The herceptin doesn't usually cause the hair to fall out, but it sometimes slows the regrowth.

I was doing some research online and found a product called Penguin Cold Caps. It is supposed to stop or greatly reduce hair loss from chemotherapy. I checked on and a number of women used it with success. Most of them had some thinning but not total loss. I have tons of hair so some thinning wouldn't be so bad.

The Penguin Cold Caps keep the scalp and therefore the hair follicle cold. It is used just before, during and just after the treatment. The theory behind this is that the hypothermic condition of the follicle causes it to be unable to absorb the chemo agent and therefore it is not damaged. Apparently they use this theory in parts of Europe and the UK. During chemo there they sit under what looks like an old fashioned bonnet style hairdryer that blows very cold air. They have considerably less hair loss using this system. Europe and the UK are ahead of the US in a lot of ways when it comes to breast cancer.

The downside to this is that it is expensive, about $400 a month to rent the caps. I would need them for about four months. The other thing is that it is somewhat labor intensive. They have to be frozen. Then they need to be transported to the chemo office in a cooler on dry ice. They must remain at 30 deg C. They have to be changed frequently, about every 20 minutes at first and then every 30 minutes. Because of the changing someone has to come along to chemo to do it. The nurses are too busy and my arms won't be free to do it myself.

So my dilemma is, surrender the hair or fight it. I still might lose it but at least I would go down fighting. I spoke to the company, from London (cool accent) and they told me they have a 90% success rate with TCH chemo (what I am having). I have to decide soon.

1 comment:

  1. Weird, I commented earlier, but - I'm in for $100 if you decide to do this. Just let me know, and I'll also see who else might be in.