Back in the big-hair '80s, my Auntie Mack had a thick, lush blonde bouffe. Then she got cancer. Chemo ruined her prized mane, leaving her bald and embarrassed. She chinned up, penciled on eyebrows and hid her scalp beneath a Harley Davidson bandana.
If ma tante had endured chemotherapy now, she might’ve kept her Dolly Parton ‘do. With a DigniCap on her head before and after radiation treatments, her hair could’ve had a good chance of staying put.
DigniCap is a silicon skull cap that’s helping chemotherapy patients retain more hair. The chin-strapped head covering cools the scalp 30 minutes before and 90 minutes after chemotherapy.
The computer-controlled cap curbs blood flow to hair follicles so that less of the harsh, cancer-fighting chemicals reach hair cells. With the metabolism of the cells significantly decelerated, they receive a smaller dose of chemotherapy. This helps many DigniCap wearers keep more of their hair, along with their dignity, say the device’s Swedish creators, Dignitana AB.
“For many patients, the prospect of losing their hair is more than just a matter of vanity,” a statement on DigniCap’s website reads. “It’s an unwelcome reminder of their disease for the patient and their families -- one that can negatively impact self-image, confidence and an overall sense of wellbeing.”
Available outside of the U.S. for a couple of years now, the innovative cap was approved just this week by the FDA for use by breast cancer patients. The patented “cold cap,” which costs hospitals and treatment centers between $1,500 and $3,000 each, has proven effective in half a dozen clinical studies. Of 122 women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer who used it before and after chemotherapy, 70 percent retained more of their hair, UPI reports.
As for my Auntie Mack (nicknamed Mack after Mack Trucks, I kid you not), she beat cancer and her golden locks eventually grew back. Now, with a hint of silver at the roots, her hair's as big and bold as ever, just like her feisty biker mama spirit.