Last July, my husband, our youngest daughter and I shared a fantastic month camping through Central Australia. About half way through the trip, I had a spectacular fall - not a fall climbing a dramatlc rock face or wading through a swollen creek, but a very ungainly fall while hanging out washing in the caravan park in Alice Springs! I landed on my right side and really hurt my chest wall.
I kept massaging the area in an attempt to find out what I had done (l subsequently found I had broken a rib), and felt a lump in my right breast. Now I am pretty flat-chested, so I was sure it hadn't been there before. I assumed it was a consequence of the injury, but kept an eye on it.
When we returned home it was still there, so I diligently had it investigated. I assumed it would be of
no consequence as l thought the chance of me having breast cancer was negligible - I had no family history and had breast fed four children. So much for that.The tests came back showing a nasty little carcinoma, poised to take off through my body. And of course I subsequently found out that my supposed protective evidence was not protective at all - I now know the main risk factors for breast cancer are getting older and having breasts! Oh dear.
I immediately became part of the well-oiled machine that is breast cancer treatment. A mastectomy
was quickly followed by a lymphatic clearance and then it was off to chemotherapy. During the initial discussions, the Scalp Cooler was mentioned as being available. I had assumed that I would lose my hair as a matter of course so even though hair loss had no bearing on my decisions about my treatment, I thought I would give it a go.
I also assumed that Scalp Coolers were available to all chemo patients in all hospitals. Again I was totally wrong and did not realise how incredibly lucky I was to have access to a machine in Taree.
The results of the Scalp Cooler have been amazing. I lost a little of my hair on top of my head but no
one except for me (and my hair dresser) could really notice it. In fact, when l went on to the next stage of my treatment several weeks after finishing my "nasty" chemo at the Port Macquarie Radiation Centre, most of the staff could not believe I had had treatment as I still had a full head of hair.
The actual process of wearing the Scalp Cooler is not the most fun thing in the world. l found
entertaining myself whilst wearing it, particularly wlth a funny movie, distracted me from focussing on the sensation of a frozen head! Being engrossed in a conversation for the first few minutes was also very diverting.
I still have a bit of treatment to go (well a few years worth actually), but hopefully the worst bits are behind me. And certainly.
I have to say that looking in the mirror and seeing normal (though at times haggard) face looking back at me has lessened the "life changing" effects of cancer treatment.