Diagnosis: Breast Cancer
Drug Regimen: Taxol/Herceptin
Total Treatments: 12
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2019. Initially, my surgeon thought I could have a lumpectomy and radiation, but an MRI indicated that the cancer was more widespread than initially thought and I would need a mastectomy. I also opted for reconstruction as part of the surgery. When the pathology reports came back after surgery, I learned that although it had not spread to my lymph nodes and I would not need radiation, I would still need chemotherapy, immunotherapy and hormone therapy. It was a lot to take in in a very short amount of time. The thought of losing my hair was somehow even more distressing (although I have since realized I could have handled that, too, had it been necessary). Luckily, my oncologist had fought for DigniCap at their infusion center and I immediately signed up.
I had twelve cold cap treatments, one every week, during the infusion of Taxol and Herceptin. I have since learned that patients on this drug protocol have especially good results with cold therapy. And I did. I lost around 10 percent of my hair during the three-month period, never developed any bald spots and my hair looked good throughout treatment. This was a boost to my self-esteem and helped me feel “normal” in a situation that was anything but that.
As for the cold therapy… the first treatment was a shock to my system. Probably as much due to anxiety as anything else. I quickly learned that I would feel the cold on my head intensely at around 10 minutes, and then again at 20 minutes. By the time I got to thirty-minutes my head/scalp had adjusted and it did not bother me after that. To help, my husband fixed me a warm drink–our center had hot chocolate, coffee and tea available, and I sipped that while the cooling down was happening. Every time I got uncomfortably cold, I sipped the hot beverage and it eased the discomfort in the same way a hot drink on a really cold day will warm you up from the inside out. We also had warm blankets available to us, and I brought an extra one of my own to lock in the warmth.
I tried to follow all the instructions they gave us. I used Biolage R.A.W. shampoo and conditioner, and Redken Nature and Science Extreme (vegan) shampoo because those were without the sulfates and parabens that can cause hair loss during treatment. I had to do research and read a lot of labels to find them, since most shampoos contain one or the other ingredient or both, but they were available online and could be delivered to my home. As recommended, I also covered my hair when out in the sun, only combed my hair, (not brushed), did not use any heat on it, or hairspray or styling products. I limited hair washing to twice weekly, and also did not have it cut or colored, as would be normal. My shoulder-length hair continued to grow throughout treatment, and near the end of my twelve weeks of chemo, I started getting a lot of new growth at the scalp which made my hair look and feel thicker. Chemo does change your hair texture. It gets drier, so between shampoos, I would sometimes add conditioner on the ends of my hair and then rinse it out in the shower to help with the tangling.
Now, three months out of chemo, with another six months of Herceptin to go, and five years of hormone therapy still ahead, my hair is getting back to normal. I am very glad I was able to use DigniCap, and would highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about it. The rep’s from the company were always available to answer my questions and provide support, and the nurse who administered my treatment at the oncology center was really wonderful as well. Cancer treatment is challenging. DigniCap made it easier.