My name is Fiona. I am 49 years old and married with two teenagers and one adult daughter. In January 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My treatment was a right mastectomy, 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 3 weeks of radiotherapy. My whole world fell apart.
I had the surgery towards the end of January at St Richards Hospital. Chemotherapy commenced in February and finished on 6th June, and I had radiotherapy during the middle weeks of July. I underwent both of these at my local Spire Hospital.
My eldest daughter researched the cold cap as she was already aware of it and believed it might help me. However we soon found there was some negative press surrounding it. My GP, hairdresser and nurses on the oncology ward at a local hospital did not see the benefits, and even went as far as advising against it. They raised concerns about me being able to tolerate the cold, the tightness of the chin strap, headaches and nausea.
None of the above deterred me and I decided to use hypnotherapy to help me through it. I started the hypnotherapy before my treatment and continued with it throughout. My hypnotherapist, Sue, made me believe that the cap was warm and that the strap was like putting on a bike helmet. We concentrated on me feeling fit and well throughout the whole treatment plan.
The results were amazing. I did not find the cap cold, but actually kept asking the nurses to check that it was cold enough! The strap was tight but with a combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen it was fine. The fit of the cap is extremely important, which is why the nurses measured my head prior to commencing the use of it - they were excellent and got an exact fit for my head.
Another important factor is that the cap must go on half an hour before the hair loss drug is administered into you, and remain on your head for half an hour after all the drugs have gone through. The nurses put a timer on for this, and I was glad that I could use the cap to its full potential throughout the process.
Before my treatment, I had my hair cut to my ears and it still grew whilst I underwent chemotherapy. It’s in better condition now than before I started! Initially, I purchased a wig in case I needed it, but I never felt any need to wear it.
I lost no hair at all; the volume and thickness remained the same - it surprised everyone. The thought of losing my hair was not a good one, but the cap allowed me to keep my hair. It made me feel so much more positive about the whole process and the journey, although hard and difficult, was made easier by this.
I also had my eyebrows semi-permanently tattooed on (suggested again by my daughter), ate really healthily and walked to exercise whenever I could. Family and friends were stunned by how well I looked and now, September 2016, everyone says I look more healthy than ever. My hair is strong, shiny and thick. I’ve had it trimmed a couple of times and coloured it since June.
I am glad to say I have converted the GP, nursing staff and the hairdresser to the benefits of the cold cap. It allowed me to continue with my life and I would recommend it to anyone considering it. For me, my hair loss was a terrible prospect. Thank you to the Paxman cold cap and I hope that more people are encouraged to use it.