The first two questions I asked when I found out I needed more chemo were
- I am going to Sweden in three weeks so can we work around that please?
- Will my hair fall out?
The answer to the first was yes of course and sadly for the last question the answer was something similar. However I had researched the idea of the Cold Cap before and somehow in the clutter of information my brain was trying to sift through I remembered to immediately ask about the availability of a cold cap, unsure how to go about availing one. Thankfully the nurses sorted and booked a machine for me. In St. James there are only two machines I think, so you can imagine it is a busy machine. It depends on treatment you are getting, time it takes etc as to whether you are eligible to use it. The last time there was no point in even enquiring about it due to the length of my treatment and the severity. This time however, I feel there is a tiny glint of hope way out beyond those mountains, that this contraption may help keep my hair.
There are different brands and methods of using a cold cap depending on the manufacturer but the principle is the same. A cap between -15 to -40 degrees Celcius is placed on your scalp before, during and after your treatment. The freezing temperatures cause your blood vessels under your skin to constrict and narrow, meaning less chemo can get through them, leaving less hair follicles undamaged and hopefully less hair loss.
It is tightly fitting and extremely cold on your head. I was expecting excruciating, after my sister Dr. Google let me know that it might not be bearable (pfffff gurl she don’t know me). After about ten minutes of mild discomfort while your noggin adjusts to the new temperature, a feeling of brain freeze may occur. I didn’t find it bad at all, but that’s just me. We get a good giggle out of it, looking more like I am jockeying in the Galway races than getting treatment. A good warm fluffy blankie is advisable, snuggle up and keep the rest of you warm while your big head feels like the north pole.
I don’t know if it’ll work, it may work, it may thin it out (may not be such a bad thing for my mop) or it may just prolong the hair loss. Time can only tell. The first time I lost my hair, I accepted it as a fate I could not alter. Not that it was a novelty but I had never been through it so I said to myself, this once I can do it, it must be done to get better. This time, honestly it feels a little more daunting. I have been through the whole rigmarole. I know what to expect, how it’ll feel, the constant hair regrowth watch. When I think about all that I just feel plain exhausted. I am not sure if I am ready to go back to ‘looking sick’ again. I feel fine, I am fine, but this labels everything once again. I am finally feeling myself again so it feel like I am taking a step back, even though I have taken ten steps forward, it still leaves a stale taste in my mouth. It is a strange concept to me, worrying about losing my hair, feeling vain and conceited after everything that has happened in the last year. Wow Sarah, that’s what you worry about. I have no doubt in my mind I am going to get through this, so I suppose it is the superficial things my mind now hones in on.
Nonetheless, a lot of confidence lessons were learnt in the last year, I can pull out the notes again and rock whatever comes my way. Try out new turbans, maybe try a wig out this time, and I’m always partial to the bald look too. If there is anything I have learnt in the past year is that I can handle anything, so I will get on board with anything that comes my way. It’s only minor!