Kia led a proactive lifestyle, going to the gym daily and was always conscious about maintaining a healthy diet. Shocked by her diagnosis, she had a lot of questions on her mind. 

‘The first thing I wanted to know was am I going to be different? Am I still going to be me?’  

Kia's journey is not just one of struggle but of courage, resilience, and informed choices. 

Initially rocked by fear and disbelief upon receiving her diagnosis, Kia found exceptional care from her team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Amidst the treatment discussions, Kia's curiosity led her to inquire about cold capping, a process she had briefly heard of through a friend. The cancer center offered scalp cooling to patients already and gave Kia more information on the process. While scalp cooling has until recently been an out-of-pocket expense, things are changing. Kia's cancer center was amongst the first to introduce Paxman's insurance-based billing model which allows providers to bill insurance directly. 

Kia was told that without scalp cooling, her prescribed chemotherapy regimen of AC and Abraxane, would result in 100% hair loss with the possibility of persistent chemotherapy-induced alopecia. It was overwhelming and emotional for Kia as she had a lot of decisions to make.  

Worried about the potential of losing her hair versus the additional time required to her treatment, she was then informed by the oncologist that even if she lost her hair, it would most likely grow back quicker due to the protection of her follicles that scalp cooling additionally provides.  

For Kia, this was the deciding factor. Regardless of whether she lost her hair or not, she knew that scalp cooling was the best chance of promoting regrowth and subsequently, following a change in chemotherapy drug, protecting her hair from persistent chemotherapy-induced alopecia which is increasingly reported amongst patients treated with taxane-containing chemotherapy regimens. 

She knew that the initial discomfort from the cold cap was going to be worth it for the long-term benefits.  

‘In the moments that it was hard for me, I would talk to myself like, “you’re not cold. It’s hot in here… coldness is just an absence of heat” you know, just kind of reframing in my mind and distracting myself, which really helped.’ 

With weekly Abraxane and fortnightly AC, she continued to scalp cool through her chemotherapy treatments, knowing that the potential benefits outweighed any discomfort. Despite concerns about her hair type (Type 4) impacting the effectiveness of the treatment, Kia's resolve remained unshaken. 

Researchers at Montefiore Medical Center are currently conducting a study to evaluate hairstyling techniques aimed at enhancing the efficacy of scalp cooling in patients with skin of color, whose hair types are predominantly type 3 (curly) and type 4 (kinky). In previous trials, their representation was largely limited. 

The results of Kia’s treatment spoke for themselves. While experiencing some thinning, Kia retained the majority of her hair, and much of the hair loss she did experience was really well-hidden. 

‘Most people can't tell, even people that know me unless they really start to look… I'm thankful for the access, thankful that the team just throws it at you and says” just try it, just try it.” You have nothing to lose, you know, and just your hair to gain back.’ 

For Kia, the decision to embrace scalp cooling wasn't just about preserving her hair; it was about reclaiming control amidst uncertainty and emerging from her cancer treatment with her spirit intact. A truly inspiring story and even more inspiring woman.