At a glance:
- Diagnosis: Triple Positive Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
- Drug regimen: Taxol and Herceptin
- Results: Cheryl saved 90% of her hair
- Cheryl says: “I wanted to keep hold of some form of normality to my life, and saving my hair was fundamental to this”
Cheryl was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and saved 90% of her hair on chemo using Penguin Cold Caps. So impressed with the results, Cheryl is now one of Penguin’s dedicated reps, helping others save their hair the same way she did.
Cheryl’s diagnosis and treatment
Cheryl’s cancer came to light following a routine mammogram. “It was my first mammogram,” she explains, “and I was diagnosed with triple positive stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma with HER2. I was devastated and terrified of losing my life.”
Cheryl was given a treatment regimen of 12 weekly infusions of Taxol and Herceptin every three weeks over the course of a year.
“Although saving my hair wasn’t the most important aspect of my treatment, I didn’t want others to see me as a cancer patient undergoing chemo treatment. I still wanted to keep hold of some form of normality in my life, and saving my hair was fundamental to this desire.”
How did you hear about cold capping?
Cheryl first heard about cold capping from her oncologist’s nurse, “One of the nurse navigators at my treatment center told me about a cold capping trial they were running and were looking to select two patients from my clinic to take part.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected, which at the time was devastating. My husband could see how important it was for me to try to save my hair, so he started searching for cold cap providers and came across Penguin Cold Caps.
Although the trial at the clinic was a Paxman trial, Cheryl and her husband decided to go with Penguin for two reasons.
Cheryl lives three hours away from the treatment center, which meant a portable cap was preferable to allow her and her husband to leave immediately after treatment and make the scheduled cap changes while on the road. Penguin cold cap therapy is a portable system, which means it doesn’t need to be attached to a machine to work. As long as the caps are cooled to the correct temperature, patients can use cold caps anywhere – even at the side of the road.
“Paxman is a machine-based cold cap system – so if I’d been selected to participate in the trial, we would have had to stay at the clinic for an additional two to three hours after my treatment when all I wanted to do was go home.”
Following extensive research, Cheryl and her husband decided that the reported results with Paxman’s machine system weren’t as positive as the success reported by people using Penguin Cold Caps.
“Initially, I was devastated I wasn’t picked, but in hindsight, I believe it was a blessing in disguise. I doubt I would have achieved the results with Paxman I did with Penguin.”
What was your experience of cold capping?
Cheryl found ordering the caps an easy process. “We had additional questions, which were answered very quickly by our rep.”
The caps aren’t difficult to use, but when capping yourself, as we did, it does take a few practice sessions to learn how to fit them correctly and consistently.
“My husband was my capper, and after just two treatments, he was a professional with a routine that worked flawlessly.
“The caps are definitely cold, and the first five minutes are the toughest. But once you get past the initial few minutes, your scalp becomes numb, and it’s much more tolerable.”
What were your results?
Cheryl says she did experience some light shedding but quickly realized that the less she messed around with her hair, the less she shed.
“I am very happy with my results as I retained about 90% of my hair. Having successfully used them myself, I definitely recommend Penguin Cold Caps to anyone who wants to save their hair on chemo.”
What tips do you have for other people thinking about cold capping?
Cheryl’s top tips for cold cap users:
• Prepack a bag with the items you will need for your chemo session in advance
• A small electric blanket is a lifesaver when using the cold caps
• Practice with a cap placed in your freezer for a couple of hours. This will help give you some idea about how cold the cap will be as well as how to handle them
• Cheryl was surprised how chemo can change the structure of your hair – most of the time, it’s a temporary change, but sometimes the change is permanent. Before chemo, Cheryl had long, medium thick straight hair – after chemo, it was curly!
A change of career
Cheryl was already working in healthcare as an MRI technician before her diagnosis. On completing her treatment, she decided she wanted to continue her career in healthcare, but this time helping cancer patients save their hair on chemo.
She is now a Penguin Cold Cap representative in Texas, offering patients the benefit of her first-hand experience of cold capping.