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New cooling cap for chemotherapy – thanks to these superstars!

A trio of ladies all in their early 30s or under when diagnosed with breast cancer have given a boost to other patients going through treatment – thanks to the donation of additional equipment designed to prevent hair loss.

Mary Perry, Tara Innes, and Gina Lloyd met while undergoing chemotherapy at the Lingen Davies Cancer Centre. They connected online as young women all undergoing treatment during the Covid pandemic and have formed a support group for other women. Thanks to grant funding from Lingen Davies Cancer Fund, the trio ran an online awareness campaign to raise funds for a new £21,000 cooling cap for chemo patients in the Centre.

It is now the third piece of kit that patients can use to prevent hair loss which can be an additional distress to those going through chemotherapy. The effect of the cold cap reduces blood flow to the scalp and therefore the amount of chemotherapy medication that reaches that area. This prevents hair loss and even in instances where hair does thin out, it helps maintain its condition and assists with regrowth.

Mary was just 27 when she found a lump in her breast.

“The three of us all used cooling caps during our treatment and we realised more needed to be available for people to make it a proper option. More younger women were asking for the cap. The caps are for everyone but when you’re younger you’re really conscious of how you’re going to look.

  Mary Perry

“We all ran awareness about the caps and what we were doing and just decided to share our own different stories and how we were all affected.

“Lots of our friends and younger people really got behind us,” she added.

Gina from Dawley was just 31 when she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

“I’ve always checked my breasts because my mum has had breast cancer three times before. I noticed a lump so I contacted my GP and was referred to the breast clinic at Princess Royal Hospital. I had an ultrasound and a biopsy. I was quite certain it would be cancer from the outset and it was. I had a test for the BRCA gene which came back positive so my cancer was hereditary.

“I had six months of chemo and a full mastectomy and reconstruction. When I had my chemotherapy I had done some research about cooling caps, I realised I had the right kind of hair for it to be successful – thick and dark.

“It really saved a lot of my hair during my six months of chemotherapy. People who don’t know me wouldn’t have noticed any difference. Along with Mary and Tara I wanted to do something for others.”

Tara from Newport used the cap and said while she did lose her hair it grew back the same.

“I’m not sure I was using it properly and if I had I think would have seen a difference. But I do consider it a success because when my hair grew back it was the same texture. A lot of my friends who didn’t use a cool cap have completely different hair now,” she added.

Sister Wendy Davies, Manager of the Chemotherapy Day Centre, said the additional machine would greatly benefit patients.

“Whoever wants to use these can access them and they’re quite popular now, we’ve seen some good results.

“People use them for two to three hours and we used to have to plan treatment around accessing the caps but now it’s rare that patients can’t use a cooling cap when they wish.

“Thank you to these three ladies for their efforts in raising this money and awareness.”

Emma Backhouse from Lingen Davies Cancer Fund said the charity was tremendously pleased to be able to help with the purchase of this £21,000 kit.

“Funding technology and kit that has a positive impact on the patient experience is at the heart of what Lingen Davies does. I’m delighted that this cooling cap is now up and running and making such a difference to people.”

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