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'Cold Cap Therapy' Helps Cancer Patients On Chemo Keep Their Hair

DENVER (CBS4) – A person learning they have cancer is a shock, and going through treatment can be the most frightening time of their life. Now there is a product on the market that may help ease that fear for some.

Losing hair is a side effect of chemotherapy that can be pretty emotional, and holding onto locks may make the fight just a little easier -- so some are putting on a cap that is helping keep their hair.

Cold Cap Therapy Cold Caps
(credit: CBS)

Amanda Boswell has a small bald spot near her scalp. It's incredible for a woman who has just completed 5 months of chemotherapy.

"I just didn't think that that would happen to me," Boswell said.

In March the 32-year-old wife and mother learned she had breast cancer and was in for a struggle she hoped to keep private.

"Especially being young with a kid I did not want those sad looks from strangers," Boswell said.

The looks are prompted by the hair loss that accompanies chemotherapy. But Dr. Virginia Borges at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, who specializes in treating young women's breast cancer, gave Boswell an option.

"Picture a bathing suit cap that (is) kept at extremely cold temperatures," Borges said.

It's called Cold Cap Therapy and it was Boswell's chance to keep her hair.

"They can actually prevent hair follicles from being exposed to the chemotherapy and therefore the hair does not fall out," Borges said.

Boswell wore a frozen cap for hours before, during and after treatment.

"It was the worst part of chemo," she said.

But the major brain freeze led to an emotional boost.

"To not have to face people every day and talk about it is so much better because it already consumes 80 percent of my day," Boswell said.

She now faces surgery and radiation but feels confident having her hair will help speed her recovery.

Cold caps may not be for all cancer patients, who should check with their doctor. The treatment is pricey. Borges says it costs about $2,000 and insurance doesn't often pay. She pointed that out a high-quality wig can cost the same.

Learn more about Cold Cap Therapy at the Rapunzel Project website.

Additional Information

CBS4's Ed Greene is a co-founder of Men For A Cure which will be holding a fundraising gala on Oct. 15. A vintage 2014 Indian motorcycle will be raffled off and 100 percent of ticket sales go to breast cancer initiatives at University of Colorado Hospital. Visit the Men For A Cure website for more information.

Men for the Cure
(credit: CBS)
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