• icecap

    Asked by cher598 on Saturday, May 4, 2013


    Just wanted to know if anyone has heard of the penguin icecap? It prevents you from losing your hair during kemo.It is also why I turned kemo down. I am fine after finishing radiation in Jan. I just feel people should not go through the humiliation of hair loss, while they are getting treated.

    27 Answers from the Community

    27 answers
    • BobbyG's Avatar

      I have lost half of my hair and that was well before I had any form of cancer. I do not find it humiliating. Moreover, I tend to consider what the most important issues are and leave vanity to the high school kids.

      over 3 years ago
    • ddkk3's Avatar

      It sounds like your attachment to your hair is unhealthy. I am mostly bald now from the chemo and yes, I miss my hair and I was devastated to lose it and of course I cried but I certainly would not say I am humiliated. I am proud of the journey that I'm going through and I will come out a different person. I would never even consider turning down my treatment.

      None of us on chemo want to lose our hair but what is the alternative? It's pretty much either chemo or the cancer kills us. You do what you have to do to survive. In the end, it's just hair and it will grow back!

      Please take a step back, reread what you just wrote and realize how incredibly superficial it sounds. I think we all feel superficial and vain when we want to keep our hair but we know it's not as important as eradicating that cancer.

      over 3 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      Losing my hair to chemo was the least of my problems. It fell out. I got a wig. Now it's growing back, slowly but surely. It is difficult to look "freaky" but it's only temporary and it helps people realize you're going through a lot.

      over 3 years ago
    • kickasscowgirl's Avatar

      One of my girls that works at a salon heard of it, but I didn't look into it. I can tell you what she told me... the theory of using ice on the head during chemo doesn't prevent hair loss, but could lessen it. Since chemo affects fast growing cells, hair cells are affected and the ice pack or icecap would slow down the ability of chemo to affect those cells in theory. The downside would be that if you had cancer cells in the skull, they wouldn't be killed off. I would prefer that while I am going through chemo, to have every bit possible of the cancer gone.

      It was hard for me when my hair fell out. But I got so many more compliments for how I looked in a bandanna with a hat over it. I will probably keep my hair short after the rest of my chemo. I would be happy if I I'd had discovered my cancer earlier when it could have been lumpectomy and not have to have hair loss and both breast removed, but that wasn't my situation. Still, I have never felt at all humiliated. If someone were to attempt to treat me that way, it wouldn't be pretty... kidding... kind of not.. haha but can't imagine anyone being that insensitive. Hope you continue to have a good recovery with your radiation. Gigi

      over 3 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I agree with kickasscowgirl -- I wanted the chemo to reach every area in search of those elusive cancer cells and I would not want to take the chance on an Ice Cap preventing that.
      Losing my hair was not humiliating -- I was uncomfortable at first but then I got to the point where I did not wear my wig because I did not like it so I wore my pink baseball cap all the time -- even to Church. I did not care what anyone thought -- I was fighting a battle and giving it all I had including my hair. My hair is back now -- shoulder length -- soft and silky. I am able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that I did all that I could possibly do.

      over 3 years ago
    • DianaL's Avatar

      I think you are being rather silly! I went while I still had hair and bought two wigs that were my natural color and style. I liked them and so did my family and friends! Chemo treats the whole body and I wanted everything possibly done to make that cancer is gone! Chemo was not that bad for me and two weeks in I began to lose my hair. The wig specialist has alapecia and she recommended that I only get a buzz--not shaved. My 5 & 6 year old granddaughters laughed and told me I still had hair. It never came completely out on top--just thinned. I even had a lady in a restaurant ask for the name of my hairdresser because she wanted the same cut! I told her it was a wig and I was being treated for breast cancer! She gave me a hug and was very kind. No humiliation! I am out of chemo six months and go without my wig. My color is black and gray--I was always a light brown--it has a wave to it so hard to do anything with, again everyone has been supportive! I think you need to ask yourself a very important question--what is more important your hair or the alternative - cancer coming back, spreading and possibly killing you!

      over 3 years ago
    • DorothyV's Avatar

      I've heard of it. I've also heard that it can be painful. It slows down the process because you have to keep refreezing your head. I chose to do chemo and rads so I would have peace of mind that I did all I could to destroy the cancer. Your oncologist should be able to tell you what percentage your risks will be decreased by doing chemo. You can't be sure that radiation took care of it. Losing my hair was a small price to pay for having chemo. I didn't feel humiliated at all. Instead I got a lot of positive attention during my treatments and after. It was kind of fun to watch my hair grow back in. I used Nioxin hair products and took Biotin for my hair and nails. This is a very personal journey and you have to do what you feel good about. Just be sure to explore all of your options. Good luck with everything:)

      over 3 years ago
    • MarianneT's Avatar

      I had very long hair that I got lots of complements on prior to treatment. I loved my hair! But you know what, I did not love it more than life. I lost all of my hair and it did not bother me for one single second. Life is more precious than my hair. I only wore a wig to work because I work with people with intellectual disabilities and it was easier than answering their questions all day long. I never wore a wig outside of work, just scarves or went bald. And XXX did I look good bald!!!!! Good luck to you.

      over 3 years ago
    • Kossmore's Avatar

      My hairdresser cut my hair really short (from very long for years) prior to chemo. It was very sad for me and I cried. When it fell out, that was sadder and I had to go to my hairdresser and have her comb it out, I couldn't. Never heard of the icecap, that would be nice if it worked.

      over 3 years ago
    • annogden's Avatar

      I agree with Marianne T - I love my life more than I loved my hair. I had mine cut short a month before I started chemo to get used to the coming change, and bought a couple of wigs too and had my hairdresser cut them so I'd be ready. When my hair finally started to come out in chunks after my second infusion, I can't deny it was a very emotional moment, it was awful. I wept for it. I had to admit there was a moment of black humour when I thought about how much I'd spent on it over the years as it piled up round the drain of my shower! I took control and quickly had a friend shave off what was left. It felt good not to hold onto it. I actually found the transformation inspiring. I'm as vain as the next woman, but as a fifty something, I found that loosing my hair turned out to be a wonderful gift even though it was not one I ever wanted. It allowed me to stop comparing myself to what I used to be, to detach from the image of my younger self and embrace the now. In the end, I rarely wore the wigs and stuck to caps or even went 'commando'. No shame. And it grew back. Don't be afraid, this life is precious.

      over 3 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar

      I actually do understand what you are saying and I do know about Penguin caps. I knew I was vain about my hair even though my hair was nothing spectacular nor did I do much with it except wash and comb it and let it go. But in the midst of wanting to maximize the treatments once I found out I would need chemo I chose not to try the cap and went to an Integrative oncology center who do a variety of treatments and nutritional changes to maximize the effect of the chemo and radiation. I decided to embrace the hair loss as an adventure as best I could even though I hated loosing my hair.. I don't look all that good bald or even with scarves so I went with a wig that was the color my hair used to be when I was younger and a younger looking style. Tomorrow, a dear friend is coming over to dye my new growth of hair for me as I am still vain enough that I like the red color of the wig (and of my younger years) and want to try to have that color again until my hair really grows long again and I can gradually adjust to looking my age. :) I am so ready to not wear my lovely wig but want to feel good about how I look as I know that often effects the ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster of this journey we are on. So, all that is just to say that I understand not wanting to be bald. There are so many things we have to deal with on this journey that sometimes what may seem minor to someone else just looms in our minds. Listen to the words of wisdom here and then if you do decide to have chemo, keep coming back for ideas of how to cope with all the different side effects. We are all here to help each other.

      over 3 years ago
    • Berley's Avatar

      Your feelings are yours. They are not right or wrong they are just how YOU feel.
      I decided to take chemo because it was recommended by my medical team and after researching my type of cancer and the treatments available that were best for treating it I decided it was the right choice for me based on the facts.
      I had long hair most of my life and really didn't want to lose it but I also knew it doesn't define who I am. Yes, I felt bad when I lost it, I spent one entire day crying. I felt scared to go back to work or in public without hair but there was a lot of support from people I knew and strangers. I loved a comment my boss made(he has little hair on his head) "God only made so many perfect heads...the rest he put hair on"
      I found some really fun hats and scarves to wear. I also found as it was growing back...I LOVE SHORT HAIR!!! Wow, I would never have had the courage to cut it short but chemo gave me the opportunity to try it short. We can go through some painful experiences and many may challenge us to extremes but we make it through. I am glad I made my choices based on facts and not feelings or fear.
      There was a women on the show The Doctors" this week that claimed to have used the Penquin Cold Cap during Chemo and it worked for her.
      Whatever you decide there will be those that oppose and those that support you. It is your decision.

      over 3 years ago
    • Giraffe's Avatar

      I was proactive and had my hair shave before it fell out. It is slowly at the fuzz stage now. I wear a wig to work, people love it. I can hardly wait to take it off each day when work is over. In my own house, I go without anything. I was also interested in the chemo getting everything to be healthy again. Finishing my radiation in 23 days. Support from family and friends are key to me!

      over 3 years ago
    • Giraffe's Avatar

      I was proactive and had my hair shave before it fell out. It is slowly at the fuzz stage now. I wear a wig to work, people love it. I can hardly wait to take it off each day when work is over. In my own house, I go without anything. I was also interested in the chemo getting everything to be healthy again. Finishing my radiation in 23 days. Support from family and friends are key to me!

      over 3 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar

      If you can get by with just radiation that's great, but some people have to have both treatments in order to kill the cancer. Saying it is humiliating losing ones hair because of chemo is was an unfair thing to say. Some of the people on this site have lost their hair because they had chemo and they had it because they want to live. Please think next time when your chose your words. You probably hurt some feelings on this site with that comment.

      over 3 years ago
    • Risa's Avatar

      My first question for you is are you sure that you are going to lose your hair? I had a friend you immediately shaved her hair along with her husband and sons and then found out that she would not have lost her hair. Her hair only would have thinned out a bit. I was told that I would lose my hair within 3 weeks and be bald. I had extremely thick hair so it took almost 6 weeks for me to experience major hair loss. I did not shave my head as I had cut my hair short ahead of time. I never lost my bangs so I could wear beanies and scarves with my natural bangs for the entire time. I bought a wig ahead of time and most of my neighbors and co-workers do not even know that I have gone through breast cancer! Everyone loves my wig including my family. My complexion really thrived during my cancer so I look better than before with the new shorter styled hair do and nicer skin!
      Now I am having trouble going back to my natural hair as I and everyone else is so accustomed to the wig. HA! It has been so easy to deal with. Not having to wash my hair and style it constantly during my cancer crisis plus it has been a major savings on hair products and at the hair salon.
      I had asked my Doctor about "the icecap" and his advice was what if there were remaining cancer cells in the brain which were to spread and be life threatening!!! So, if I were you I would do more research on the type of Chemo that your Doctor was planning on prescribing to see if you would lose all of your hair or if it would only thin out a bit. I will be going on more chemo next month and I only have a 10% to 29% of loosing my hair. I hope that I will not lose my hair but the most important thing for me is to continue fighting this disease! Good Luck to you!

      over 3 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      Oh that vanity thing does creep in. My oncologist said most women cry thinking of losing their hair but when they think longer about losing their lives, hair becomes much less important! I lost all my hair during chemo. I did not like that but I was determined to live! I would have done ANYTHING to survive. I shaved it off because my hair was coming out in clumps. I hate anything on my head but I found I could tolerate soft beanies and scarves. I got some cute earrings and that was that. MY HAIR GREW BACK, and it was pretty fun experimenting with new hairdos and color as it grew in. I have cut it many it times now. Please know you are more than your hair, you are a Survivor! Do whatever your oncologist thinks you need to do to beat this horrid disease. My cancer center does not do ice caps. Sorry to be blunt but I would rather be bald and alive than dead with hair. Just sayin... Good luck! Please know I am not judging, this is just how I feel.

      over 3 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      Cher598, please reconsider. Your hair will grow back. I am reluctant to state my opinions as bluntly as some others have (kudos to them), but might I suggest what they call an "attitude readjustment". Cancer is a big thing to adjust to. But life happens to be a series of adjustments.
      You adjust, or not. Your choice.

      This is my personal dilemma, which probably is not helpful to you - but I am compelled to write it for my own personal feelings. Bear with me.

      I hate hate hate my wig. But I actually like the scarves (the turban....meh) that I wear pirate style. I live in an age restricted "active adult community, (I feel like the average age is 85) where the ladies mostly dress very stylishly, and prim and proper. I think my neighbors regard me as a hippie in their midst.

      As I've stated previously on WN, I had think sparse hair before chemo .... actually since my 40s.
      My daughters would suggest my wearing a wig, but even though I hated my sparse hair I hated the thought of a wig even more. So people often recognized me by the bald spots on the back of my head.

      I, too acted proactively, and had my head shaved as soon as my hair started coming out. But now that my hair is growing back - it is even sparser than pre-chemo.. I may be in scarves the rest of my life because I think when the growing-in process is complete, I may not have the courage, as I did when I was younger, to not care.

      I know in my heart that my personal hair issue is pretty inconsequential - but I do struggle with it. I try very hard to keep things in perspective and maintain a sense of humor about this.

      But life goes on. And the good thing is that it still goes on. I have interests, social contacts, and activities that I enjoy. My hair, simply, must not take precedence. And if you think this is a pep talk to myself, it is. And if you have read this far, I must congratulate you on your patience.
      And thank you WN for the sort of anonymity here - I don't think I could talk about this. Even in a support group. Not yet, anyway.

      over 3 years ago
    • oceanblue24's Avatar

      Sorry I never heard of the penguin icecap. That said the first thing I said when they told me I would need chemo was "oh no I don't want to loose my hair" & believe me being overweight all my adult life I'm far from vain!! So I don't think you're vain. But I felt my life was more important then my hair. I was a stage 3A & knew I needed that chemo & I don't regret it. I'm almost a year out from the end of my chemo & have had to have my hair cut twice already so it comes back. Please get the best treatment you can get but know the decision is up to you!

      over 3 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      This is an interesting discussion. I have done EVERYTHING my onc has recommended, because if my cancer returns someday, I don't want to have to say, "Oh, if ONLY I'd listened to him and done such and such!"

      When I was young, I heard my mom whispering to her friends about another woman who had lost a breast to cancer. And I thought--"I'd rather DIE than be w/out both of my breasts!" But how silly I was!

      Cancer has taught me what is important in life: telling those around me how much I love them, leaving a good legacy behind me so my life was "used" to the fullest, getting joy out of simple things such as a good cup of coffee on the porch in the sun...oh! WOW! Notice that list didn't include "HAIR"?

      I've learned I can go without hair, breasts, eyelashes, eyebrows and "normal" looking nails--AND STILL BE HERE! I feel more powerful than my cancer! It's a wonderful feeling!

      Yes, I DID cry when I lost my hair...but I bought some goofy costume wigs and ended up laughing about my looks in them. Again, I feel like I have the upper hand over cancer.

      I urge you to re-think your refusal of chemo. If you were drowning in a river and someone threw you a rope to get to safety but you missed it, would you then refuse a life ring that someone else wanted to toss your way?

      over 3 years ago
    • Honeypot's Avatar

      I understand that it is very difficult to get the icecap and usually only a few young people get it.
      However, I was upset that someone said that it was vain to not want to lose your hair.
      When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a lot of visits to the hospital and for the
      radiation, I made a point of dressing up and making the best of myself as it helped my
      morale and people told me how well I looked. Get the most glamorous wig that you
      possibly can and have the hair of your dreams and keep smiling as all this will pass.
      My niece who is 19 had her hair cut short and then gave her lovely long hair to a charity
      who make wigs and then give them to children with cancer. That way no-one's hair
      is wasted. Honeypot

      over 3 years ago
    • abrub's Avatar

      My chemo for appendix cancer (colorectal cancer chemo) does not usually cause hair loss, and I did keep my full head of hair (while losing most of my body hair). But if I could have opted to become permanently bald versus the side effects I did have, believe me, I would gladly have opted to lose my hair.

      Your life or your hair? To me, the answer is easy. And there is no humiliation in going through medical treatments, regardless of what happens. It is what it is.

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      The ice cap does not work according to what I saw around me at the chemo center. The percentage of people that it works on is small, it is also not healthy to freeze the head...I've heard of the possibility of it causing problems later with scalp and even mets to brain. I don't know all the facts only what I've seen with real people around me. I am very vain about my looks and chose not to worry about it ..because getting healthy and loving my family, living my life is more important. Now almost a year from my first chemo treatment (was at the end of May 2012, right before Memorial Day), I have a nice healthy crop of hair, it is shorter than I want, but thick and curly just like it used to be! Don't give up your health for these crazy reasons!

      over 3 years ago
    • Caroclara's Avatar

      I looked into the icecap and decided against it. You have to bring it in a cooler to the chemo session and as I remember plug it in to keepit cold. It's like having an iceberg rapped around your skull. Look it up on google. I was one who thought "Ill never be one of "those" people without hair, but had to have chemo last winter. I cut my hair short to relieve the possible shock of seeing gobs fall out. Then during Hurricane Sandy my husband electric shaved it. I bought some nice caps from Amazon that were very pretty. I finished chemo in Dec. and started to let my hair grow in Jan. and it grew in quite nicely. People who don't know that I've had chemo hair loss, come up to me out of the blue and say,"I love your hair", I always had shoulder length dyed redish brown hair and now it's short and grey and white and looks darn good and I love how easy it is to take care of. There is no humiliation in being sick, only glory in being alive.

      over 3 years ago
    • cher598's Avatar

      I take back this question, but could not delete it --I wrote a response a long time ago that I was totally misunderstood, but I cannot find my other response from then. So sorry ev one seemed upset, + I wish u all the best. I got the info from "the Doctor"s tv show.

      over 3 years ago
    • Ladykarla's Avatar

      Cher, I just saw your second post about your question being misunderstood. Being a member of this site for awhile and being familiar with these wonderful people who posted answers to your question, let me say that no one, truly no one, is upset or mad at you. They love you as a fellow human being with cancer and they are concerned for you. They are trying to help you. Most of the people who gave you their opinions have helped me and made my life so much easier. Your question turned out to be valuable because many of these answers helped me in other ways. The outpouring you got from your question turned out to be a blessing. Also, look how many people cared enough about you to respond. Isn't it wonderful? You keep asking questions and we will keep answering with care for you in our hearts.

      over 3 years ago
    • Ddancer's Avatar

      I did it. Of course I love life more than my hair, but it was very long, very beautiful and part of who I am, a dancer. I just finished my last chemo treatment and swore I would never do it, but the cancer was too invassive and aggressive. Tears don't even come close to the anguish.

      I did the Advance Cold Cap treatment since Feb. My hair has thinnned quite a bit, but I still have hair on my head and a little pony tail. I saved my original hair. I was hoping to have more but don't. Five months ago I could not even talk about it and now here I am. I am not humiliated, or embarressed just sad to find hair all over the house. I just started loosing my eye brows/lashes last month, so maybe that slowed that down too. I am not going to worry about cancer in my skull. I am confident that my doctors took care of me. Surgery is next month and the tumors have shrunk by 70% already so I will be alright. A lumpectomy is the plan. I will let everyone know though if I get a different story.

      over 3 years ago

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