Diagnosis: Breast Cancer
My hair has always been my “signature” feature, ever since I turned prematurely silver at age 25, so when I was diagnosed with cancer in January 2014 [at age 59], I was devastated. I knew chemotherapy meant my hair would inevitably fall out. I walked out of the room when the doctors told me. I felt dizzy, weak at the knees, because I just envisioned myself very skinny with no hair, going through chemo.
Luckily, my husband put all of his focus into trying to figure out how best to make me as comfortable as possible during those challenging months of treatment, and he found a clinical trial for DigniCap, a scalp-cooling system created by the Swedish firm Dignitana that allows patients to keep their hair while they undergo chemotherapy. Even though it hadn’t been approved by the FDA yet, he wrote an incredible letter to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital to urge them to accept me into the clinical trial of the system they were conducting there. He said that the program would “benefit tremendously by selecting this beautiful, mature, youthful-looking woman to be a model.” How could they resist? His passionate, heartfelt letter got me accepted into the trial.
With the use of DigniCap, I was able to keep all of my hair and could choose to stay more private about my battle with cancer. I didn’t have to walk into the grocery store and have to explain what I was going through to the same people who had complimented me on my beautiful hair for so many years. I still looked like myself, even though I was going through life-saving treatment. For some women, losing their hair is a badge of courage, but for me it was a very big issue. I’m so grateful to my husband for discovering DigniCap and for getting me into that trial.