Thank you for spreading the word about cold caps

Published 11:03 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

To the Editor:

I wish to take this opportunity to thank Stephen Cowles, The Tidewater News and Windsor Weekly for doing and printing the article on Cold Caps as an alternative for total hair loss during chemotherapy. I thank you, too, for the viewpoint article you wrote and for sharing the information with The Suffolk News-Herald so they, too, could help spread the word about Cold Caps. Hopefully, more people will now know that this option exists.

I also wish to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful team of friends and family for being my ‘cappers’ through my six major chemo treatments. The Arctic Cold Caps version I used basically required putting on the first cap 45-60 min before the actual chemo and then changing caps every 20 minutes until at least four hours after the chemo treatment. In my case, that totaled about eight hours, so my cappers worked in three shifts each time.

Cold Caps had to be frozen to -25 to -40 F, so they were kept in a cooler of dry ice. Before use, each cap was removed, temperature tested, and then if necessary, kneaded and worked so as to shape the cap to fit my head as closely as possible. My cappers did these chores with grace and humor, and so my eight hours of Cold Caps passed quite quickly actually.

And so I honor my cappers, the ladies who provided me with their time and their uplifting, spirit-enhancing service with laughter, love, compassion and the support that is so critical to any cancer patient. Thank you so very much to: Nancy Blythe, Ann Cicero, cousin Judi Ellal, sister-in-law Charlene Herrala, Peg Lockwood, Stella Payne, MaryAnne Riddick, Pam Vaughan and Pat Walker.

Although most people try to comfort one with “It’s only hair. It’ll grow back,” for some of us, that’s not the point. It’s difficult enough daily to see the physical difference a lumpectomy or mastectomy has left when showering and dressing, but to also be reminded of cancer’s horror by catching a glimpse of oneself in any reflective surface either bald, having patches of hair missing, wearing a wig or turban, or even having a highly sensitive or itchy scalp all the time, is just too much for some of us. Having the option of TRYING to keep one’s hair allows a little bit of power over the disease. A way to say to the cancer that it is NOT totally in control after all. Cold Caps, in it’s different forms, gives a cancer patient that option. Check out for more info.

Barbara Herrala

One more thing: Annual mammograms are really important, but so, too, are monthly self-checks. I had a completely clear mammogram in June, 2015; I felt the “questionable area” in December 2015. Sure glad I didn’t just wait until June 2016, and next mammogram … .