At a glance:
- Diagnosed with Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer
- Drug regimen: AC / Taxol
- Saved 95% of hair
Dina is 59 years old and retired just last year following a successful career in insurance. She was all set to enjoy her retirement with her husband of 33 years when she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer.
“When I was told I had breast cancer I can honestly say I was never scared of the outcome and I’m still not,” explains Dina. “Luckily my breast cancer was caught at stage 1, and I was told it is treatable and curable.
“I am a very positive person and have too much to fight for – a long and happy retirement for one – so I know I will kick cancer’s butt. What scared me more was the thought of losing my hair from the chemo.”
“My first treatment plan did not include chemo. I was so thankful, not only because I would not have to subject my body to it, but I would not lose my hair.
“Unfortunately, the night before my lumpectomy, my oncologist called to tell me one of the tests indicated that there was more than a 20% chance that the cancer could metastasize in the future. She recommended chemotherapy, which would greatly reduce the risk.”
Dina’s oncologist prescribed four rounds of the AC chemo every other week for eight weeks, followed by 12 weekly treatments of Taxol. Dina’s worst fear was realized.
“Sixteen weeks of chemo on the strongest drug regimen – I would definitely lose my hair just 14 days into treatment.”
“It may seem weird that keeping my hair was such a priority for me when faced with breast cancer,” says Dina. “People mean well when they tell you to ‘Rock the no-hair look’ and that the most important thing is your health. And obviously, it is. But I felt that saving my hair was important, not just for my looks but also my mental well-being.”
Dina’s experience of cold capping
“As soon as I knew I was undergoing chemo, I immediately went into ‘keeping my hair mode’. A friend suggested I consider cold capping – she’d successfully saved her hair on chemo the year before. When I asked my oncology team at my treatment hospital, they immediately recommended Penguin.”
Dina’s husband took on the role of cold capper. “My AMAZING husband was trained on my first day of chemo by an awesome Penguin Cold Cap rep. He then took over the job of capping me for the next 15 rounds of chemo treatment.
“He was incredibly diligent, changing my cap every 25 minutes and ensuring the cap was secured properly to my scalp to ensure maximum benefit.
“We were told to start capping before my chemo infusion to ensure my scalp was properly cooled before the chemo drugs entered my body. We then continued to cap afterward, for a period of time recommended by my rep, to give the chemo drugs a chance to dilute.
“My Penguin Cold Cap rep also gave me lots of other tips and advice about managing my hair during and after treatment to minimize hair loss. To this day, almost seven months later, I still wash my hair with cold water poured from water bottles over my head, rather than using the showerhead, to continue to strengthen my hair. I still haven’t used any product on my hair, nor have I has a cut or used color since my chemo.
“But I still have all my hair. The bottom line is, I truly believe following ALL the direction given by your Penguin Cold Cap rep is paramount to success, I cannot stress this enough.”
Dina says that nothing can really prepare you for the experience. “It does require commitment and perseverance, it is cold, but in the end, it was worth every last layer of clothing and warm blankets to retain my hair”.
Dina’s cold capping tips
• Follow your Penguin Cold Cap reps instructions to the letter
• A cotton ball in each ear will help protect them from the cold
• A wet brush works even better than a wide-toothed comb
• Keep your sense of humor – I shared pics of me cold capping from the infusion chair – yikes!
• Chronicle your hair each week – it helped me to show my minimal hair loss to all my family and friends.
• Use Dina’s mantra: Prayers for hairs!
“I kept at least 95% of my hair, even though I was on one of the strongest chemo regimens,” says Dina.
“So, I would most definitely recommend Penguin Cold Caps. The process is incredible and truly works. I wish everyone had the opportunity to benefit from capping. I love that Penguin Cold Caps is giving cancer patients back control – we can now choose to save our hair on chemo.”