How to Keep Your Hair Through Chemo:
Most current chemotherapy regimens for breast cancer result in hair loss. I chose to use cold caps to prevent hair loss during chemo (picture above was taken a few months into my chemo regimen -long after I should have lost all my hair). I was lucky enough to have the resources and support to do this. I fully respect everyone’s personal decision about the chemo/hair issue, and when I see bald men and women going through chemo, they look beautiful to me. I am just providing information for those who want the option as it is no longer a given, and this is not very well known in the US. It does not work for everyone but, I have been 100% successful in keeping my hair after completing 8 rounds of dose dense chemo (4 AC/4 Taxol). Not losing my hair through chemo by using penguin cold caps, has felt like one huge psychological victory over this fecking cancer. This was also a really big deal to my young kids, and their friends, who expressed a lot of concern about my long locks being lost in this.
Here is some info that may help those who would like to consider this: Dignicap has been FDA approved for use in the US as of December 8, 2015 and can now be found in many of the leading hospitals and cancer centers. Find out what is available in your area before you decide where to have chemo! ChemoColdCaps is an excellent website with tons of information about this process. The Rapunzel Project is a non-profit that provides information about the existence and efficacy of cold cap therapy, refers patients to cold cap providers that have demonstrated track records of success with various chemo drugs, and donates biomedical freezers for clinics to make cold cap use easier and less costly. There is an amazing organization called Hair to Stay that provides financial assistance to individuals going through the cold cap process.
However, the cold cap process is difficult to tolerate, it’s freezing (obviously) and it does not work for every chemo regimen or for every person. So, for those who have lost, or will lose, all or some hair due to chemo, or who choose not to do the cold cap process, but want to have hair going through this, the truly impressive and remarkable Lucinda Ellery has just brought her patented intralace technology to her new studio in NYC. She has thriving studios throughout the UK and in LA as well. Clients come from all over the world to use her hair system. Lucinda and her products are truly revolutionary. She can attach an intralace system at any point in your process that matches your hair color perfectly and your hair can shed and grow back underneath it without ever being bald if you so choose. This process is about the same cost as a natural hair wig (2500-3500) – but it stays on 24 hours a day and you can shower, style it, and even swim with it. It lasts about 2 years. During that time, you need to return to the studio every 6-8 weeks for an adjustment. This costs 150 per hour and is typically 1.5-2 hours. Three times during that 2 year period, they will need to take everything out and re-do the process. The cost for this is approximately double the adjustments (3-4 hours; 450-600 dollars). For women with thinned hair, or those that just want more volume or length, she also offers Medi Connections (light-weight extensions) that last about 3 months and do not cause breakage or any damage to your existing hair. She uses real hair and Keratin polymer to produce a completely natural look that allows your hair to grow in healthily along with these products. Many insurance companies will cover some of the cost of a wig with a doctor’s prescription for a cranial prothesis. I would recommend finding out if you can apply this to cold caps or Lucinda’s products if you choose them instead of traditional wigs to off-set the costs.