Scully Welch Cancer Center, supported by Grand Harbor Answer to Cancer, is providing state-of-the-art technology that prevents hair loss during chemotherapy, DIGINICAP. And, it is free to anyone who is not able to afford it or to those who do not have insurance that will cover it.
Answer to Cancer introduced and funded the original Dignicap program at Scully Welsh Cancer Center. In 2015 Carole & Bob Plante’s daughter, Carole, had to undergo chemotherapy up North for breast cancer but with a difference. To help prevent the treatment from causing her hair to fall out, she wore a specially designed cap. At the time, it was a manual procedure. The cap was basically filled with ice to chill the scalp and prevent the chemotherapy drug in her system from reaching the hair follicles. It was a real success.
Answer to Cancer with its motto of focusing on providing “exceptional tender loving care during the cancer treatment” decided to investigate this new procedure. This process cools the scalp during chemotherapy sessions helping to prevent hair loss. Each patient is given a personalized thermal cap to be used throughout their treatment. The Dignicap machine connects to the cap and controls the temperature of the scalp during the chemo session.
When we first learned of this technique it was a manual process. We are now on the second generation of an automated, much improved system that we want to make available to every cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy.
Our goal is to fund the complete treatment for anyone wanting it. It is estimated to cost approximately $2000 per person. A patient’s hair can be a major part of their identity, and many patients rate hair loss as one of the most devastating side effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy-induced alopecia (hair loss) is an unwelcome reminder of disease, one that can negatively affect self-image, confidence, overall sense of well-being and a patient’s attitude toward treatment. Because Scully Welsh advertises “Chemotherapy may destroy your cancer but it doesn’t have to destroy your hair” the DIGNICAP machines are constantly being utilized.
Since we were responsible for the original introduction of DIGNICAP, ATC wants to ensure that in the future everyone wanting to benefit from using the DIGNICAP during Chemo has that opportunity. We are looking at what it will take to provide enough machines to provide the procedure free to those who can’t afford it and to those who are not covered by their insurance.
I am writing to thank you for providing the DigniCap program to the Scully Welsh Cancer Center. I am one of your beneficiaries and I want you to know how grateful I am for your kindness in targeting a specific need - hair loss for chemo patients.
If you have ever passed an errant mirror and stopped to adjust your collar, push a strand of hair behind your ear, check for lipstick on your teeth or make sure you are smiling, you know what it must be like for a cancer patient who has lost the hair on her head. When I glance in a mirror or look in one purposely I am not constantly reminded I am undergoing treatment for cancer. I am one of the lucky ones who (so far at least) has not felt too burdened by the other side effects of chemo and you have given me the chance to carry on my life as usual. Thank you.
Thank you, too, for the response of family, friends and even complete strangers who when they see me are not aware that they should treat me with kid gloves or always ask me how I am feeling or can they do anything for me.
To be allowed to lead as normal a life as possible while having my life otherwise controlled by the medical profession is a huge boost to my recovery. And I have The Answer to Cancer to thank for that.
My name is Linda Kofoed and I was diagnosed with HER2+ Breast Cancer the end of May 2018. I was told one of my chemo cocktails would include Taxol - whose side effect is 100% loss of hair. I just remember saying there must be another way.
My mother had already lost one daughter to the same cancer and my daughter was getting married the following spring. For me I needed friends and family to see my story, not my sisters. I needed my hair.
My Oncologist gave us some brochures and told us about a therapy that could help me keep my hair. It was a cap that you would wear during treatments that kept your head very cold which would make the chemo not attach to the hair follicles. It was a commitment 30 minutes before treatment started and 90 minutes after - and it isn’t covered by insur- ance. And it came with its own set of rules - wash gently once a week, no pulling your hair back etc.
If you know me my hair is always in a clip but after reading about it, I was all in. For me keeping my hair was part of the armor I would need to fight this cancer. I am very thankful that this product is available, I was able to walk around and not be looked at or whispered about when I walked by. It was one less thing to worry about during treatment.
There is something about looking in the mirror when you are not 100% - seeing your reflection makes you feel like you’ve got this, and Cancer isn’t going to win today.