Diagnosis: Breast cancer – Stage 1, ER+/PR+/HER2+
Drug regimen: 6 rounds of TCH
Results: Saved 90% of her hair
Rachel says: “Now, 26 weeks post-final chemo, I’m known at my clinic as ‘the girl that kept her hair’.”
Animal lover Rachel, a 43-year-old insurance agent from the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, lives with her husband and a menagerie of unusual animals, including her dog, a turtle, and a tarantula.
Rachel’s diagnosis and treatment
Rachel was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer at the age of 42 and, following surgery, embarked on a drug regimen, which included:
- 6 Cycles of Taxotere & Carboplatin – chemo
- Herceptin – immunotherapy
- Lupron shot – Estrogen suppression
- Anastrozole – Estrogen suppression
She says, “Because it was early, I wasn’t really afraid of the disease. What gave me the most concern was my reaction to the drugs… one of which was possibly losing my hair and the small chance that it would be permanent.”
How did you find out about cold capping?
Rachel explains that her hair is a big part of her identity. So, as soon as she found out about her treatment plan and that it would result in hair loss, she turned to the internet.
“I Googled “keeping your hair during chemo” – just to see what was out there – and that’s when I first discovered cold capping,” she explains.
“I wanted to control the narrative – I didn’t want people to see a bald ‘cancer’ head and think of me as ‘sick’. In my mind, I wasn’t sick; I was just undergoing a hard treatment. Two very different things.”
Why did you choose Penguin Cold Caps?
As Rachel delved into her options for cold capping, one provider consistently stood out – Penguin Cold Caps. Two critical factors influenced her choice:
- Higher success rates:
Penguin Cold Caps had a high success rate, which gave Rachel confidence this was the right system.
- It was a manual system:
Rachel wanted a manual system because, from her research, she didn’t think that machine capping would give her the results she wanted, for several reasons:
- Lower temperatures: “Penguin caps are cooled to a lower temperature than many of the machine-based systems are able to achieve, which I thought would give me a better chance of success,” explains Rachel.
- Closer fit: “Penguin caps are designed to give you the best fit. They provide bands and velcro fastenings to ensure a snug fit. Other caps didn’t appear to give you such a close fit – and this is important because the caps only work if they fit well.”
- Length of time in the cap: “For the best results, I needed to wear the caps an hour before chemo, during chemo, and four and a half hours after chemo. If I’d opted for the machine caps, I’d have to stay in the clinic, which means I’d only be able to wear them 30 minutes before, during, and only one and a half hours after chemo. I didn’t think this was long enough to achieve the best result.”
What was your experience of using Penguin Cold Caps?
Rachel ordered the caps from the Penguin Cold Cap website. “The ordering process was simple. I paid online, and everything showed up in a few days, neatly packed with instructions.”
She decided not to use the services of a capper and instead recruited the help of her husband, best friend, and sister-in-law. “After a couple of test runs in my living room, we had it down pat,” she says.
When asked how she coped with the cold, Rachel wants to reassure others that it ‘wasn’t that bad’. “I thought it would be, but it wasn’t. I have thick hair, so I was worried it would freeze right off the bat, but it didn’t. And I was capping in winter in Cleveland. We even stopped in a parking lot to change caps in the snow! At most, I used a blanket if I got chilly.”
What were your results?
Rachel kept 90% of her hair with no visible bald spots. She says, “I would 100% recommend this product. My hair shed for some time after my chemo, but I still only lost the hair at the nape of my neck and right above my ears, and no one can tell.”
Rachel says she’s thrilled with the results. Now, 26 weeks post-final chemo, she’s known at her clinic as “the girl that kept her hair.” Her story serves as a testament to the power of perseverance, faith, and the determination to control one’s narrative amid the challenges of cancer.
Do you have any tips to offer people thinking about cold capping?
Join Penguin Cold Caps Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group: “Other people are going through the same thing, and those of us who have lived it are happy to pass on our advice and support.”
Don’t be discouraged by your oncologist: “At the beginning, my oncologist told me that I probably wouldn’t keep my hair even if I capped. But I was able to give her an Alexis Rose hair flip at every post-chemo appointment. She was amazed, and so were the nurses.”
Share the experience: “People would stare at me in my blue ‘helmet,’ and I would explain what I was doing. Maybe one day that knowledge will go to someone I will never meet, and they will benefit too.”
Get in touch
If you’re about to undergo chemotherapy and want to find out more about cold capping, why not request a callback. Our reps can provide more information, and answer all of your questions. Just click here, complete the form and your local rep will be in touch.