Help for cancer-related hair loss?

Published 9:33 pm Monday, October 24, 2016

The ever-increasing awareness about cancer over the past few decades has been remarkable. More and more people have been learning to watch out for symptoms of the disease in its myriad forms.

News about steps to prevent or curtail its damage is readily available, and it seems that announcements on the latest treatments are becoming somewhat commonplace.

Recently, we learned of a technique that doesn’t address cancer itself, but one of the disheartening side effects, which is hair loss. The strength of radiation or chemotherapy can destroy cancer cells and hair follicles alike.

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Happily, there’s good news on that front, brought to our attention by Barbara Herrala of Walters. Following her diagnosis of breast cancer earlier this year, she got to work in finding what, if anything, could be done to reduce hair loss to a minimum.

The research paid off when she discovered cold caps — super-chilled caps to be worn during treatments — which constrict the blood vessels at the scalp and thereby block the chemicals.

Although Herrala’s experienced some shedding and thinning, it’s much preferable to losing all the hair. Not having visible reminders of wigs or turbans, for example, has lifted spirits and empowered her.

She learned that people in Europe and even the West Coast of the United States reportedly already know and use this technique. Perhaps it was just a matter of time before such a discovery made its way to the East Coast.

By telling her story, she hopes that now more people in Western Tidewater will be aware of this option and seek it out for themselves if the occasion arises.

We also encourage anyone about to undergo treatment for cancer to research all their options and see what’s feasible for themselves. It couldn’t hurt to look.