Cool cap or brave the shave

Hi, I am due to start chemo regimen 17th August and would love to hear peoples opinions on the cool cap. I have been told I will definitely lose my hair with the drug they are giving me (Epirubicin) but the cool cap may help. Do I live with patchy, thinning hair that I can only wash twice a week or brave the shave. The cancer nurses are keen for me to try the cap but I’m not so sure

Hi Kazzan

It’s great to hear such a measured question when you’re facing the prospect of chemo. I was a wreck!

Obviously this is a very personal issue. For a lot of women, their hair is an essential part of their identity and I wonder if it’s easier to face hair loss when you have short hair. It was never an issue for me. As soon as they said it added 2-3 hours for treatment time, that was that. No cold cap for me. Cool cap is a bit of a misnomer. From the women I know who have had it, it is icy cold and very tight around the head (another reason for my ruling it out). It also doesn’t always work. But if you have the time and can bear a tight scalp, it may be worth a try. One woman I spoke to swore by it, but lifted her long hair to reveal a large bald patch above her ear. You’d never have known though.

A shave isn’t the only alternative. After my first clump of hair slid out (maybe a week after my first EC (that’s Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide) I opted for a no 6 buzzcut. This meant I had very flattering hair but I didn’t need to touch it. I could smooth shampoo on and let the shower do the rest, pat it dry with a towel and that was that - no hair loss to weep over. I wore a sleep cap at night to reduce friction with the pillow and treated myself to 2 cashmere beanies to get me through the winter. I never did lose most of that hair, even though my oncologist said “You WILL lose your hair with paclitaxel”. I did look like a partially plucked chicken by the end of chemo but regrowth began very quickly and that is a gorgeous feeling - so soft, I couldn’t keep my hands away from my hair!

There’s also a wide range of wigs for a patchy or bald head. If you’re in the UK, the first is subsidised by the NHS but those wigs won’t be real hair. They are pretty convincing though. I struggled with a wig and was known to whip it off regardless of who was around because I found it uncomfortable. I wore mine maybe 5 times,

Thinking of hair loss, have plenty of balm tissues to hand because you’ll lose your nasal hair. If you’re into makeup, get your eyebrows micro bladed now. Only the most spidery brow hair survives. Losing my eyelashes was something I found very painful, never having opened the door without my mascara on. I got used to making my eyes up in a different way. There are Look Good, Feel Better sessions (with a very impressive goody bag of samples) to help - check their website. The rest of the body… get used to prepubescence and peeing in multiple directions but don’t expect to lose the leg hair. Drugs can be cruel!

I wish you all the best for a successful treatment, with or without hair.

Jan x

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Following earlier thread I have gone ahead and purchased a selection of sun hats, scarves and beanies. For anyone in the UK I can definitely recommend a company called Hats 4 Heads. They have a fantastic selection of all kinds of headwear including wigs, all at a reasonable cost

i ordered yesterday and received them today. Fantastic service and lovely quality across the range

Hope this will benefit other people in the same position