Holding on to Hope and My Hair
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and earlier this year I became part of that statistic. I learned quickly when speaking with health professionals that one of the most significant impacts when going through cancer treatment is the loss of hair, and many women experience this reality every day. The outcome of my experience going through treatment for Stage II breast cancer was very different using Penguin Cold Caps. Cold Caps combined with a positive mindset and daily healthy behaviors helped me be successful in keeping 90% of my hair even going through an aggressive treatment for my type of cancer. I was first told that I would lose all my hair within the first two to three weeks of starting treatment. The photo below was taken 2 days after my final, of 8 treatments that took place every two weeks over four months.
After receiving my breast cancer diagnosis in May I turned to Dr. Beth DuPree from Northern Arizona Healthcare’s NAPBC Accredited Breast Program in Sedona for guidance. Dr. Dupree brings extensive experience and offers empathy and saw I was determined not to be defined by my breast cancer diagnosis, so she recommended cold capping. Cold-capping is effective during chemotherapy in reducing hair loss due to the cold of the capping vasodilating so the chemo cannot reach the hair follicles.
On average, women have a 70% chance of keeping at least 50% of their hair or more if, during such aggressive treatment, they are willing to commit to healthy behaviors. I was absolutely committed to being healthy throughout my treatment, and in addition to capping, I remained positive and focused and adopted a daily regime of exercise, hydration, detoxing, healthy eating and supplements, as well as sleeping a consistent number of hours each night. My oncologist was very supportive and reinforced my approach when going through treatment.
"Candice's remarkable and consistent dedication to integrative health during her treatment was one of the most important factors in helping her experience minimal adverse effects. With undeterred focus on health, she did not succumb to cancer and its therapies to re-define her. She stayed true to herself and embraced activities that brought personal hope and meaning." Cecilia Choi MD, Medical Oncologist, Northern Arizona Healthcare.
When undergoing cancer treatment many women experience trauma because of the loss of hair, and even after treatment ends are reminded of their experience because it can take months for hair to grow back, and sometimes hair doesn’t grow back at all. I am very passionate about sharing my story with other women recently diagnosed with breast cancer and possibly the early stages of treatment, to provide them hope of keeping their hair and feeling good about themselves through such a challenging time. I would not only like to share my story with cancer patients, but nurses and doctors as well, with the hope that it is expected that cold capping and other healthy behaviors become a regular part of cancer treatment.
“Thanks to amazing success stories such as Candice's, other people are realizing that they too may be able to keep their hair during cancer treatment if they cold cap. It is an honor to represent a company that is so passionate about empowering people during a very stressful time in their lives.” Nicole Bambalere, Arizona and New Mexico Representative with Penguin Cold Caps
Cold Caps offer women a sense of normalcy and some level of control during a stressful and traumatic time in their life. An increasing number of women and men have adopted the cold capping process over the past 20 years due to increased awareness and efficiency of the technology.
Dr. Beth DuPree shared her perspective as well. “My dear friend Julie was part of the initial Cold Cap trial almost 20 years ago as her long beautiful hair was her most treasured feature. Julie lost her hair but we gained knowledge about cold capping that has certainly evolved. We didn’t know then what Penguin knows now as my patients who are motivated can preserve their hair as Candice chose to do. Losing hair during chemotherapy can be the most devastating blow to a woman and tells the world they have cancer. Cold capping allows a woman to share her cancer journey with whom and when she chooses!”
My goal is to share my story in future blogs, as well as my learnings and successes when going through chemotherapy treatment to support others through their journey. Look for more of my story in the weeks and months to come, and join myself and Nicole Bambalere from Penguin Cold Caps as we team up to offer information sessions the last Monday of every month starting October 26th from 530-630p PST. For more information contact email@example.com or to sign up for an upcoming virtual session visit https://www.facebook.com/events/394717814891763.
Candice Porten holds a Master of Public Health from Purdue Global and is the published author of the “Mile for Every Year” Book Series, frequent speaker, and fitness instructor. She has dedicated the past 25+ years of her life to lifestyle and corporate wellness.