I was only 42 and a mother of two daughters, ages 7 and 11, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Vanity was a factor in my initial decision to use cold caps, along with sanity and a deep desire to maintain a sense of normalcy for my family. The best thing is that I didn’t look like a cancer patient 24/7 – whether it was me looking at myself in the mirror, my kids looking at me, my co-workers, or random strangers.
I’ve had fairly long hair most of my life and have never been a hat/visor/scarf person. I had read about cold caps in a cancer magazine and my medical oncologist mentioned it to me as well, but I wasn’t really considering trying them – especially after I heard about all of the rules and restrictions in regards to what you could do with and to your hair during the whole process. In my mind, maybe I would have hair, but it would look crappy if I could very rarely wash or bruch it, and never ever blow dry or color it. This is because it is very important to “baby” your hair to minimize the damage caused by the chemo.
Thinking cold caps were not for me, I tried on wigs and sort of settled on an acceptable color and style, but as soon as I showed my daughters the pictures, they went over the edge and just about had a temper tantrum, almost worthy of the toddler days. This was really all the push that I needed to seriously start thinking about the cold caps as I really wasn’t psyched about the whole wig thing either. So I jumped into research mode, asked questions, reached out to Chemo Cold Caps (who was absolutely fabulous every step of the way), and ultimately decided to give the cold caps a go with just a few days to spare before my first chemo treatment was scheduled.
Fast forward 18 weeks, I just finished my treatments mid-March (6 rounds of TCH) and have had absolutely remarkable results (no thinning or bald spots whatsoever!). I am extremely thankful for my husband who was in charge of the cold cap process on chemo days, which is a harder task than you may expect for our helpers. I just sat there and complained while he handled the gel cap, the straps, and the other equipment with changes every 20-30 minutes while keeping meticulous track of time. I admit that it wasn’t comfortable wearing the caps (although definitely not unbearable), so it was a long 6 hours chemo day for both of us. I would do it all over again (although I sure hope that I never have to) and am so grateful for the support of my family and friends as well as my doctors. Each woman’s diagnosis and journey is different. Cold caps probably aren’t for everyone, but they sure made a positive difference for me.
by Kimberly Riley