Do Chemo Caps Really Work On Natural Hair? Trish’s Chemo Hair Loss Journey
So many things run through your mind when faced with a cancer diagnosis. Although hair loss may be perceived by those not touched by cancer as something that should be the least of one’s worries, chemotherapy induced hair loss can be traumatic for many women. Our identity is connected in some ways to our hair, and when faced with a life changing illness, it is important to be able to retain a sense of normalcy in your life.
Naturalista Trish G. was recently diagnosed with cancer and when faced with the inevitable hair loss that is part and parcel of some chemo drugs, she decided to try a chemo cold cap, which is touted as a device that can significantly reduce hair loss during chemotherapy. Trish shared her experience with me.
Dianne: Would you say that the cold cap is really working?
Trish: I would say that the chemo caps worked best they could. I knew it was not 100% guaranteed. I lost a lot of hair but I think when I undo my twist you can’t really tell the hair loss due to overall volume. I think it works better on less kinky hair.
Dianne: What were your thoughts when you first learned that you would need to undergo chemo and would lose your hair?
Trish: All I knew was chemo meant hair loss. I kept telling everyone I am ready for that and I wasn’t worried. I am the one in my group that consistently cuts my hair really short and I have said that losing my hair was the least of my worries at this point.
Dianne: What made you decide to try the chemo cap and is it worth it?
Trish: Well when it came down to it, I really was nervous to lose my hair and it was really because I wasn’t feeling like a woman any more. My breast had been cut, and I was feeling sickly and it was winter I couldn’t go outside much nor dress up. So the idea of losing my hair was really starting to affect me. I equated beauty with my hair. So I mentioned it to my caregivers and before the end of a meeting I was sitting in, they had collected close to $1000 to help me rent the Cold Caps for a few months. I do think it was worth it.
Dianne: What will you do if you should lose more hair than you anticipated? (Get a wig, wear a scarf or go bald).
Trish: I did lose a lot of hair, more then I thought I would. Funny my hair is covered more times than not, so I am very used to wearing wigs and scarves and even with the caps, I kept my hair securely covered and moisturized through the entire process. Hindsight is 20/20 for me. Doing the caps cost money and takes time. It really is a huge effort for the patient and the caregiver. Seeing how much hair I did lose and the effort we had to put out I would not chose to do it again but it was something I wanted to try and I did.
Dianne: What advice would you give other women faced with chemo related hair loss?
Trish: I would say that now I truly understand that losing your hair is not the worse thing in the world. It grows back or hey maybe it doesn’t there are always wigs and scarves and those that love you will love you regardless of the length of your hair. However, you need to prepare yourself for the loss, I didn’t experience as drastically as others but it if comes out like it did from say my armpits, be ready to see it come out in droves, like using Nair. So the decision is once you see it starting get ahead of it. I hear its really liberating for some to have a party and CUT IT ALL OFF. I am just here to say there is LIFE after your HAIR LOSS. I truly do not let things like that bother me at all any more. So many things I used to care about I do not let phase me at all. I know I was put on this earth to help others through this journey I am going through. So if I can help in anyway just email.
|“Changing attitudes about natural hair” is what we do at Natural Haircare News. Through informative articles, podcasts and videos, we go beyond just sharing the latest advice and tips on kinky, curly, wavy haircare – We shake things up and focus on the realities of wearing our hair natural.|
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Thanks for this article. I’ve had a hard time finding resources about breast cancer among non-Europeans, and how to care for ourselves during chemotherapy for those of us who have non-straight, tightly-curly, kinky hair.
I’m considering Dignicap and wondering if it is worth it. Have a few questions I’m hoping you and Trish can help with.
– Did Trish use the Dignicaps at/during her chemo treatments. Or was she using the ones used at home.
– I “heard” that the length of time prior and after chemo are important (an hour before, cap on during infusion, hour after infusion) is important. Can Trish share her regimen?
– I also “heard” that putting conditioner in your hair and putting a shower cap on during the Dignicap treatments also help. Was this something Trish tried?
Comment From Trish: The process of using Chemotherapy cold caps whether Dignicap or otherwise is expensive. There is also a time commitment. Knowing what I know now I would have not used the caps and I would have let the process of hair and self renewal take place.
I did not use the Dignicap, by the time I learned of this one I was already committed to a different vendor. My cap was from Artic Cold Caps. They are designed to be used 45 minutes before Chemo, during the entire Chemo session and then 3 to 4 hours after Chemo. That said they are used at the infusion center and while at home. My understanding of Dignicap is its a machine used while at the infusion center, so I am not sure how you would use after Chemo, but maybe one does not need to. Again I did not do much research on this cap.
I heard the same about using condition before during and after on your hair/scalp. I used it before and thus was technically on my hair during but after and days following I found myself too tired to do anything with my hair and it suffered.
At the end of all this I found my hair to be brittle and it could be because I stopped caring for it. I finally chopped and came into my own being and I feel great about it. Now I will say I felt good about cutting my hair on MY TERMS.