The last year has been a whirlwind.
A year ago in October, I went in for a routine mammogram. Delayed by COVID, I was proud of myself for not putting it off longer.
When they called me and told me they needed me to come back for more scans, I wasn't phased.
When they told me I needed a biopsy, that something didn't look right, I knew it was not ok.
A few days after my biopsy, I sat in the oncology surgeon's office with my mom and dad. I had a fast-growing, invasive tumor. It spread within the breast. I would need 6 rounds of intensive chemo. A full year of another chemotherapy. A mastectomy. I would lose all my hair. I was 41.
For some reason, I could handle all of it. But the thought of losing my hair devastated me. I didn't want my kids scared. I didn't want people on the street looking at me. I didn't want my friends feeling bad for me. I was ready to fight cancer, to lose my breasts, to destroy my body to save my life. But I didn't want it to be the FIRST thing people saw when they saw me.
I remembered a friend has shared that when she went though cancer treatment, that she had done this thing called cold capping -- and had saved most of her hair. Even my father, an oncologist, knew very little about it. I researched. The hospital I was at didn't provide it. I almost gave up.
But at the last minute, a week before I was scheduled to start chemo, I called around. Found that MGH offered the Paxman Scalp Cooling System. It was on me to contact them, apply for the equipment, figure out what I needed -- but it was available.
Within a few days, Paxman had sent me the equipment, MGH had me set up to use the machines, and I had my first chemo. Over the course of chemo, I lost about 40 pct of my hair. Seeing it come out in my hands, clump in the drain, was hard -- but I still kept about 60pct. My kids didn't notice a difference. My friends knew but it wasn't obvious. And if you didn't know me, you had no idea.
Going through cancer is tough. It affects every part of who you are. But thanks to scalp cooling, I was able to focus on saving my life. And when I woke up every day and looked in the mirror, cancer wasn't always the first thing I thought about.
Scalp Cooling is not always covered by insurance. It is an out-of-pocket expense for the majority and is cost-prohibitive for many. Hair to Stay helps to provide the equipment so that anyone who chooses to do it, has it as an option. Not everyone wants to -- but not doing it should be a choose made by preference, not by finances.
Please help me to support this organization that helped me so much during this past year, and allow another mom, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother or friend to not allow cancer to take one more thing from her - her hair - during treatment.