“It was a huge shock to be diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37.”
With a 7-year-old son and having just had my second baby, I climbed into bed one night and realised I could feel a lump.
A degree of privacy...
I thought it would be absolutely nothing; probably just a milk gland from breast feeding, and I asked my husband if he could feel it. He could too and told me I should really go to the doctors – I went the next day.
After my check-up the nurse told me it was probably baby related, but that I would be referred to the hospital within two weeks just in case. As soon as they examined me at the hospital, they knew straight away that it was breast cancer. At that point I met my breast care nurse, who explained what would happen next and the course of treatment I would need.
“My mum said ‘If there is something out there that can help you keep your hair, you must give it a go.’ At that moment, I knew I had to try it.”
My first stage of treatment was a long course of strong chemotherapy, and I had to have eight treatments where most people would normally have six, meaning hair loss was highly likely. Working in a beauty salon, the thought of losing my hair was unthinkable. I’m surrounded by the general public and meet lots of new faces every day, so I had actually spoken to people who had used the Paxman Scalp Cooling System in the past and it had worked for them.
My mum hadn’t heard of scalp cooling and the cold cap before, but as soon as I explained how it worked and that there was a chance I didn’t have to lose my hair, she just said "If there is something out there that can help you keep your hair, you must give it a go." At that moment, I knew I had to try it.
I spoke to my breast care nurse about the Paxman system. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got. The nurse and my oncologist had the personal opinion that it didn’t really work, but I knew it had worked for the people I had met in the salon, so I told them it was something I really wanted to try. I wanted to keep my hair.
My work in a beauty therapy environment played a large part in my decision; everybody would be looking at me as the face of the business.
Nobody knew I was having chemotherapy unless I chose to tell them.
“The duration of my treatment was 6 months in total, and the nurse told me “You will lose your hair”. This made me more determined than ever to use the system.”
The duration of my treatment was 6 months in total, and the nurse told me “You will lose your hair”. This made me more determined than ever to use the system. Coincidently, my best friend works for the company, and as soon as she knew, she brought the caps round to my house for a personal fitting and gave me one to use throughout my treatment.
I was dreading using the cold cap, as I’m not very good with the cold anyway. My husband would tell you that I’m a nightmare, putting the heating on all the time! So I didn’t know if I would be able to stick it out but I had a trial with my friend and it really wasn’t as bad as I expected. Once you get past the first 20 minutes, you don’t notice it as much. And what is the alternative? With so much negativity surrounding treatment, the Paxman Scalp Cooling System brought something positive to the whole experience.
My tips would be to take a hot water bottle with you when you go for your treatment. Bring some paracetamol and a nice thick headband, woolly jumper or blanket. I found it really useful to have a hot drink and a friend with me to take my mind off it. We were chatting away and I didn’t even think about it!
My work in a beauty therapy environment played a large part in my decision; everybody would be looking at me as the face of the business. I chose to tell some people, but I didn’t want everyone to know what I was going through. It’s a very personal thing. I’m so glad I could keep my hair and look the same to everybody – nobody knew I was having chemotherapy unless I chose to tell them.
I would definitely recommend anybody, especially women, to give the Paxman system a try. Your hair is such an important part of who you are and how you feel. Even if you just try it once, you never know until you’ve given it a go, and it’s not as bad as you imagine it to be.