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Laurie Davis Cold Cap Therapy NJ Breast Cancer 3
Oct 17, 2018

Cold Cap Therapy

By Lori Draz

Laurie Davis Cold Cap Therapy NJ Breast Cancer 3

This first thing you notice about Laurie Davis is her beaming smile, large shining eyes and her long, blonde hair. But there was a time when Laurie’s hair was the big question.

The former Monmouth County resident, a 52-year-old executive with a 30-year career in investment management, was diagnosed with breast cancer during her annual mammogram and ultrasound in August 2017.

Davis has no family history of breast cancer, yet a biopsy on a lump revealed Stage 1 A Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), meaning the cancer cells invaded normal surrounding tissue but did not go to the lymph nodes. A few weeks later, she had a lumpectomy and one lymph node removed.

Laurie Davis Cold Cap Therapy NJ Breast Cancer 2

Davis was lucky to have caught it early, but after consideration of her tumor grade, hormone-receptor status and HER2 status, her oncologist recommended a 12-week chemotherapy regimen to reduce the risk of a recurrence, as the cancer cells were very abnormal, regular and fast growing.

“Hearing I had to have chemotherapy threw me for a loop,” Davis said. “I would still have to have radiation (the more common treatment) after the three months of chemotherapy. And after chemotherapy, I would have to continue with infusions a non-chemo drug every three weeks.”

Davis finished her chemotherapy this month at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan. And like so many, one of the great fears is hair loss.

“I had a preconceived notion of chemotherapy based on movies and books. I did not know how I would be able to handle this 12-week regimen, but my oncologist alleviated a lot of fears. She said Taxol, the drug I would be receiving intravenously, is fairly gentle, causing little to no nausea,” Davis said. “However, one side effect was total hair loss. How was I going to deal with this?

“My oncologist told me about a technique called Cold Cap Therapy, which is a non-invasive technique of scalp cooling, proven to be successful in minimizing hair loss,” Davis said. “It is a popular therapy throughout Europe and other parts of the world; the awareness in the U.S. has only just begun.”

Cold Cap Therapy involves applying specially designed, gel-filled, strap-on helmet-like caps that are cooled to an optimum temperature (30 below zero) and comfortably and snuggly fitted onto the head to cool the scalp for a period of time on the day of chemotherapy.

When the blood vessels are narrowed, less chemotherapy medicine reaches the hair follicles. With less chemotherapy medicine in the follicles, the hair maybe less likely to fall out. The cold also decreases the activity of the hair follicles, and makes the follicles less affected by the chemotherapy medicine.

The amount of time one wears the cap depends on the type of chemotherapy that is administered. The cold caps thaw out during chemotherapy, and they need to be replaced with a new cap about every 30 minutes.

“In my regimen,” Davis explained, “I had to wear the cap one hour before chemotherapy, and then during the chemotherapy infusion, which was about two and half hours, and then continue wearing it for four hours after chemotherapy, so it made for a full day!

Laurie Davis Cold Cap Therapy NJ Breast Cancer

“You also have to baby your hair during treatment, which means no hairdryers, shampooing the hair only every third day with cool water and gentle shampoo, no coloring or haircuts until three months after chemotherapy is done, and gentle combing and brushing,” she said.

Cold caps may not work for everyone, depending on the type of chemo one receives, Davis said, explaining that the more gentle the chemo, the more effective the therapy is.

“If you are interested in trying cold caps, talk to your doctor about all the factors of your treatment, including your chemotherapy regimen and any other health issues you may have,” she said.

Davis is feeling and looking like her old self again, complete with her beaming smile, shining eyes – and her long, blonde hair.