By Nancy Gay
At first glance, with her long hair partially pinned back with bobby pins, you’d never know Kerry Kinsella recently underwent six rounds of chemotherapy. This breast cancer survivor is still in treatment, but she does not sport a bald head, a typical telltale sign of the disease, thanks to the DigniCap Cooling System. It’s an FDA-approved device for patients undergoing chemotherapy to reduce hair loss.
Six months after her last chemotherapy treatment, Kerry’s long locks were still in place as she presented a check to Moffitt Cancer Center for more than $8,000, so other breast cancer patients can benefit from the DigniCap, which is usually not covered by insurance.
A few years ago Kerry and her friends organized an annual pub crawl fundraiser to help a few buddies who were being treated for cancer. Since her diagnosis, the cancer crawl has taken on a special meaning and she is using it as a platform to raise money for women want to use the Dignicap, but can’t afford it. She raised more than $7,000 and her company, Raymond James, donated another $1,000 to the cause.
Kerry was among the first 20 patients to use the DigniCap at Moffitt. It works by reducing the temperature of the scalp, which reduces the blood flow there. This means less chemotherapy reaches the hair cells and the cellular metabolism within the hair cells slows down.
In order for the DigniCap to work, patients must wet their hair and apply the cap 30 minutes before beginning a chemotherapy treatment to allow the cap to cool. The cap circulates liquid to cool the scalp during chemotherapy treatment. Another cap made from a type of rubber called neoprene holds the cooling cap in place and acts as an insulation cover. This is held in place with a strap that’s tightly secured under the chin. The cap remains on throughout the chemotherapy treatment and then for up to three hours afterward depending on the type of drug being administered.
Kerry says it feels like a 30-minute brain freeze and then the scalp kind of goes numb. She only noticed some thinning and shedding on top of her head where she believes the device wasn’t on tight enough during the first treatment.
Kerry is now undergoing immunotherapy treatment and receives an estrogen-blocking shot once a month. She is grateful she has her hair in place and proud to give other women the chance to go through chemotherapy without losing their locks.