Cold Caps change the face of cancer

Cold Caps change the face of cancer

Megan Doyle, Staff Writer

A bald head is the universal symbol for cancer, but a new technology called cold caps will be changing that. In April 2015, the FDA approved the invention that allows the patient to keep their hair during chemotherapy.

Lori Haggerty, a nurse and reiki master at Norwalk Hospital, has worked with multiple patients using cold caps.

According to Haggerty, the cold caps are not invasive and are drug free.

“Because [the cold caps] are are chilled to negative 15 to negative 40 degrees below Fahrenheit, they freeze the hair follicles so that the blood vessels narrow and it restricts the amount of chemotherapy that reaches the hair,” Haggerty said.

In order to get to this temperature, the caps need to be frozen in dry ice at home or in a bio medical freezer only provided in the clinics. Norwalk Hospital is the only one in Connecticut that has this certain freezer for the cold caps.

Lori Winthrop, a parent of two freshmen girls at Staples, used cold caps during her treatment. She supports the use of cold caps 100 percent, and highly recommends it to others. It helped her experience with cancer in a more positive way, and she believes it will also benefit others.

“[When] you’re bald – it really marks cancer. Everyone looks at you and thinks, ‘oh duh, you have cancer,’” Lori Winthrop, said.

Instead of her cancer being a known trait, Lori was able to pick and choose who she wanted to tell. The hair creates a kind of normalcy that is needed during this crucial time.

Club Pink, the group at Staples that raises money for breast cancer research, also supports the new cold cap technology. Abby Suppan ’17, the president of Club Pink, thinks it would be great to raise money to help others access this new technology.

“I think cold caps should be accessible to everyone,” Suppan ’17 said, “[…] it’s really important to have that option to keep their hair.”

Club Pink will try and come up with ways they can raise money to make this goal possible.

“I think if we could find something, I would definitely be happy to do that,”  Suppan ’17 said.

In order for patients of chemotherapy to have the same experience that Lori Winthrop did, the message of cold caps needs to be spread. Winthrop would to do anything she can to help spread the word and inforce her ideas.

As Winthrop says frequently, “You don’t have to be bald to be a hero.”