There’s something about Mary..
I’m not sure if we’ve featured a Smarty Mom 3 times, but there can be a first for anything and this is a story you will want read.
According to breastcancer.org. “ About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12.4%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.” With statistics like that, it is more than likely that you know someone that is battling /has battled breast cancer, if not yourself. Many media platforms can provide you with information about breast cancer, treatments, statics, and options that could take you a lifetime to read. It’s out there with just a simple click, or is it?
Today we are catching up with Dr. Mary Lacey. This is our 3rd time featuring her, but I think that this may be the most valuable circling for you to read. In November 2017 Mary learned that she had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma- Stage 1 breast cancer. In 1986 Mary’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.
“I remember how devastating it was to see her without hair. I didn’t fully understand her diagnosis or prognosis but seeing her without hair reminded me that she was sick everyday. I didn’t want to do that to my own children. Seeing your mother bald and sick is devastating.”
“I wanted privacy for myself and my family. I am a Behavioral Health Doctor in private practice and keep my personal life very private. I was not ready to see patients with a bald head- I needed more time to figure out what to do and chemotherapy was going to steal that from me.”
Mary’s oncologist (Dr. Misra/Oncology Specialist of Charlotte) told her about Cold Capping/Scalp Cooling System they have one of the only two Dignicap machines in the state.
Cold caps and scalp cooling systems are tightly fitting, strap-on, helmet-type hats filled with a gel coolant that’s chilled to between -15 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold caps and scalp cooling systems work by narrowing the blood vessels beneath the skin of the scalp, reducing the amount of chemotherapy medicine that reaches the hair follicles. With less chemotherapy medicine in the follicles, the hair may be less likely to fall out. The cold also decreases the activity of the hair follicles, which slows down cell division and makes the follicles less affected by the chemotherapy medicine. Cold caps and scalp cooling systems are slightly different. Cold caps are similar to ice packs. Cold caps thaw out during a chemotherapy infusion session and need to be replaced with a new cap about every 30 minutes. Women usually rent the caps and the special freezer. With scalp cooling systems, the cap is attached to a small refrigeration machine that circulates coolant, so the cap only has to be fitted once and doesn’t need to changed during chemotherapy. Scalp cooling systems, such as the DigniCap System, are purchased by a cancer treatment center and people are charged to use the system while receiving chemotherapy. (breastcancer.org)
I am going to hand over the rest of this blog to Mary’s voice. Invaluable insight and information with passion and determination. Thank you Mary!
How long has Cold Capping/Scalp Cooling been around?
Various methods of cold capping have been around for over 30 years! Women were bringing in coolers full of frozen peas to keep on their head during their chemo infusions! Home made cold caps were beginning to surface about 25 years ago and 20 years ago, the scalp cooling machines were being installed into hospitals and used throughout Europe.
Can anyone with breast cancer or another form of cancer have the option of cold capping?
Any one with solid tumors can use the Scalp Cooling system and Cold Caps. Breast cancer is a solid tumor so all breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy are perfect candidates.
Why don’t we hear about these options a lot?
The FDA just cleared scalp cooling in 2015 so that may have been a hindrance for most medical practices. I believe we don’t hear a lot about scalp cooling/ cold capping because insurance doesn’t cover it- therefore, the hospitals can’t make money off of it and don’t promote it. That realization made me very sad. Additionally, it’s not cheap so it isn’t an option for many women. There are many women fighting the insurance companies and I believe it will be fully covered within a couple of years.
What is the price?
The price depends on the amount of treatments a woman or man requires as well as the choice they make between scalp cooling (using a machine to keep the cap cold) or cold capping (which requires many frozen caps during chemo and are changed before their temperature reaches 32 degrees). My Dignicap cost was $400 per treatment however manual cold capping costs between $400-$500 a month and are mailed directly to your home.
The pros are definitely keeping your hair! Privacy, dignity and the ability to take back some power were definitely the pros. The cons were that it was expensive and uncomfortable- but honestly, it was tolerable. You must completely wet your hair before the cap goes on to ensure the proper temperature. The first 30 minutes are a challenge and feel mostly like a brain freeze after ice cream. After those 30 minutes, your scalp goes numb and I was actually able to sleep each time. When the time is up, you must carefully remove the cap as your hair has frozen itself to the cap and needs to be gently pulled away. You can see visible ice in your hair when the cap is removed.
How did you want to make a difference?
I started a gofundme page www.gofundme.com/coldcapping The money donated will be used to set up a fund to subsidize or completely cover, as many cold capping sessions as possible. Once someone applies, qualified applicants will receive money directly from the fund for their treatments. Each applicant will be reviewed by a board of directors that include; an oncology doctor, an oncology nurse, a financial advisor and myself, serving as the chairman. Currently the goal is to raise $20,000 and we have raised over half of that goal!