Starting Fec 14th January 2008 -need advice

Hi I am starting Fec next week and am really not looking forward to it. I have been offerred the cold cap but don’t know whether I should use it or not, feel if I do I am being vain, but am really bothered about losing my hair. I know in the scheme of things it’s not important, but somehow it is. Can anyone who has been there give me any advice.

Thanks Julie

Hi Julie,

I hope your FEC goes well; how many are you having? I had 4 EC (no F) and my hair did not go immediately. Then 4 docetaxel after that. I think I started to really shed about a week or so after the second EC session. I too was upset about losing my hair, mainly because I had just got it to a nice length when I was diagnosed! I took one look at the cold cap & knew that I couldn’t do it….but, some people have really had success with it I know. Hopefully you will get some feedback.

You might not like this suggestion, but if your hair is long enough, you could think about getting it cut short ahead of time and then donating it to a hair charity. It really helped me feel that all my hair wasn’t going to ‘waste’ and that I might be helping someone else (typically this would be a child who has lost their hair through illness).

If you or anyone is interested, I’ll get a link to you. Or you could probably find the two charities I’m thinking of by using google. I just went for headscarves in the end….

Best of luck to you,

Lomalinda XXX

Hey Julie,
I have had two cycles of FEC so far…third due wenesday this week.My hair started to fall out on day 12 of the first cycle and was all gone in a couple of days after that.Try the cold cap…it may work for you…its not to bad.The nurse will give you a slip to get a wig on the nhs…take it for backup if you happen to shed your hair.Drink plenty of water and eat something prior to you having the treatment.
The nurses are great .Try looking @ cancerbackup website…it will tell you about FEC.The chemo tips are great on this website too.
Good luck…chill out & relax
Pauline xx

I had 3 x FEC100 and used the cold cap. I have short thick hair and I still have abut 75% of my hair. It has thinned on top.

I would 100% say try the cold cap but consider a short cut first. Wash your hair only once a week, use a non perfumed shampoo conditioner (orgainic if poss) and comb very gently with a wide tooth comb.

Good luck


I was initially worried about losing my hair and thought about the cold cap but then decided not to for 2 reasons,

  1. There is a little (albeit little) risk that the cold cap will prevent the chemo reaching the bits being chilled and therefore not entirely zap any cancer cells lurking up there
  2. I have always had thin hair and suffered from alopaecia at times during life and decided that I was coping with enough disappointment/emotion etc due to BC that if I wore the cold cap and then still lost such an amount of hair that it looked bad then I would be disappointed again. Although only a small disappointment I know that sometimes I can cope with the big things but then one little thing will really tear me down and as I wanted to avoid that I just decided to accept the hair loss.

To be honest, I spent far more time worrying about the hairloss and buying caps, wigs, bangs etc before hand than I have done since and actually I don’t mind not having hair. I have caps and a wig I like for when I want hair but more and more I go without.

For me, its harder to see myself with sparse straggly eyebrows and eyelashes than no hair. Bald with lashes/framed eyes I think I looked okay, if not sometimes, good (I could convince myself if I squinted that I could be GI Jane LOL!), bald with the bad eyebrows and eyelashes I look much more like a cancer patient and that I don’t like so much.

I don’t think the cold cap makes any difference to eyelash and eyebrow health so unless you are very lucky these will go anyway or thin and you’ll have to find ways to cover/deal with them even if you keep your head hair.

Of course I can draw on eyebrows and I have found there are eyebrow wig shops on the internet (really!) (I didn’t bother as I didn’t realise there were so many styles etc and couldn’t face something else that might blow off on a windy day!) and I am learning (just) to stick on false eyelashes (badly) if I am going out in public and don’t want to look so bad.

What I am trying to say is that a lot of ladies do worry about this, but whatever you decide you will find a way to cope for you and it will come back (I have bum fluff on my head and am only just past my 4th FEC) just try not to let it be too big a thing now or spend too much money now on stuff you might not use (unless you find the retail therapy and actually doing something to prepare useful).

I have also just had my fourth FEC. I lost my hair over a weekend after my second treatment. I kept being told it would go but deep down I was convinced I would hang onto it! I can’t say the experience was pleasant but I now have 3 fabulous wigs! 1 for best & 2 more funky (and cheaper at £15 each!) One of which I always keep by the door to pull on if i get a visitor! My family who see me wigless have told me I have a lovely head!!!
I think this is the worst bit about FEC - the side effects appear to vary from person to person but the other side effects I have found bearable so far.It was far worse thinking about losing my hair that when it actually happened.
I didn’t want to extend the time it took to have my chemo by having the cold cap. I also like to wash my hair frequently & didn’t like the idea of having to be so gentle with it. The wigs are easy, if occasionally a little itchy, & can be given a quick wash as & when necessary.Also I won’t need them for ever!
It is a difficult choice - good luck -hope it goes OK

Hi Jules,

I have just had my 2nd FEC and had the cold cap on both but it hasn’t worked for me at all. This may be because I have quite fine hair but lots of it. I’m glad I gave it a go but have decided that I am not going to bother anymore. Don’t get me wrong I have always been very much into my hair and the thought of losing it fills me with dread but sometimes you just have to admit defeat and on this occasion, I have to admit I am one of the unlucky ones! I am now planning to get it cut from a bob to a short style before my 3rd FEC on 23rd Jan and look at it that I am taking control.

It started falling out on day 14 of my first FEC and hasn’t stopped since. I wish you all the luck but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work for you. I have been told by so many people that it often grows back thicker and better than before so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Take care and good luck

Hi Jules 1948, my friend who i met at the chemo sessions we both started with the cold cap i had the blue one and she had the pink cap i lost most of my hair but she didnt lose her hair and she looks brilliant so know one, ever knew she had been ill,
. its not being vain , if you can keep your hair why not. go for it girl.Marysiax


I have just completed 6 FEC and used the cold cap throughout.
It is not easy, it is cold and takes longer, however after 6 FEC I still have about 50% of my hair, and I can get by without a wig.
Personally I would say give it a go, it does not work for everyone, but you could be a lucky one.


Thanks ladies for all your advice and all your comments. I may try the cold cap on the first treatment and see what I think, if I am going to be fighting a losing battle then I would rather surrender at the beginning than have a long fight. Thanks and I will let you know how I get on. I guess I will have to deal with the nausea and tiredness as well, oh and the constipation, heavenly …
Thanks again Jules xx

Hi Jules,
Good luck with the chemo…as for the constipation take senna tabs.
Pauline xx

I am about to have my last chemo tomorrow. I had 3 FEc then 3 docetaxel. try not to worry it is not the nicest thing in the world but maneageable. The staff at my chemo ward have been brilliant and helped me through it. I was very sick the first time and ended up admitted with a throat infection - but they gave me much stronger anti sickness drugs after that and the day after my chemo I go and have an injection to boost my white blood cells ( I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old so my oncologist said I am at a higher risk of picking up bugs etc)

As for the hair I did not wear a cold cap and my hair fell out after a couple of weeks. I was upset the day it started to fall out although my daugher lightened the mood by having great fun pulling it out for me!. I was recommended a wig hairdresser by the chemo ward and my NHS trust paid for my wig and I have to say it is brilliant. My very honestly told me it looks better than my real hair! they are a little itchy for a couple of days but then ok and I just wear a head scarf in the house. You will find it cold in this weather so get some hats. The good news is than after chemo number 4 my hair started to grow!

Good luck!

Hi rosfergie.
I am having FEC as well and my hair started to go this weekend. I am going to wash it tomorrow and no doubt lots will fall out as I haven’t really touched it much at all.
You said that it started to grow back after the fourth chemo. If you don’t mind me asking - When did you lose your eyebrows and eyelashes? I am going for a wig fitting and styling with hairdresser on Thursday and they have a beautician who can do false lashes that last for up to three months and I wondered whether to book an appt.
ps Jules 1958 - I had my first FEC on 29th Dec and was very sick so New Year came and went without me really moving from my bedroom but after three or four days I was back to normal and I’ve actually had a lovely time this last week whilst everyone else has gone back to work. My second one is next Monday and I aren’t dreading it even half as much as I was last time. Good luck but I am sure you will be fine xx