Diagnosis: Metastatic cancer
Chemotherapy regimen: Taxotere/Carboplatin
Total treatments: 4
I was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer in my left inguinal lymph gland on 12/14/2018. My life turned upside down with the scans, visits with the oncologist, radiation oncologist and having a port placed. The holidays were a blur. I am very blessed to have strong family, friends, church and work support. I spent a lot of time in prayer and private tears. I started my first weekly round of chemo (Taxol + Carboplatin) along with radiation on 1/17/19. By 2/9/19, my hair started coming out in clumps in the shower. I had been warned and hoped I would be one of the lucky ones with only hair “thinning” (I have pretty thick hair) Six days later, I had my head shaved as my hair kept coming out and was terribly thin. I must have lost over 70% of my hair. Much of my scalp was totally bald. I spent the next four months in a wig. I had a love-hate relationship with it. Most folks did not realize I was wearing a wig. I just hated wearing it as I was constantly tugging on it. Trying on clothes in a department store was a challenge. When I took my wig off after work, my head would be so cold I would have to wear a cap. I hated to look in the mirror without my wig.
I finished eight rounds of chemo along with radiation and was given a couple of months break before starting on a new regimen of Taxotere + Carboplatin every three weeks. My hair had started growing back quickly and I was able to go without a wig. I was both thrilled and sad about my hair coming back as I knew it would be short-lived with the second round of chemotherapy. I became very concerned about the prospect of permanent hair loss and spoke with my oncologist about the number of lawsuits from permanent hair loss with Taxotere. I have a very understanding oncologist and he spoke to me about cold cap therapy. He told me I was a candidate for it. The hospital I work at and receive my chemotherapy had just acquired the DigniCap system. I read everything I could find about cold cap therapy and DigniCap as I had not heard about it. I also did more research and found the insurance I had covered cold cap therapy. I was ecstatic! I was the first patient to use the DigniCap system where I work. It was pretty exciting being the first and sharing the journey with the rest of hospital staff who was supporting me each step of my cancer journey.
I have completed four rounds of Taxotere + Carboplatin and have been very blessed with NO hair loss. I was shocked to find my hair continued to grow during chemo. I even had to get a trim. Not losing my hair has made such a difference for me. The possibility of saving my hair gave me something really good to focus on and gave me hope. It was fun coming into work and doing a “head check”. One of the nurse navigators told me she had been pretty skeptical about whether DigniCap would really work until she saw me coming to work with continued hair growth. I think she is as excited as I am.
I have reached out to the hospital I work at as a resource for others who are contemplating using DigniCap. It is not easy going through the “brain freeze” for about 15 minutes until your head becomes numb. I remember the first time I went through it, I was ready to yank the cap off. The DigniCap representative was with me during my first treatment and kept assuring me to go to my happy place. It is well worth the 15 minutes of discomfort and extra time spent in the Infusion Center. I want to share my story with others to give them hope. It works.