New treatment helps New Brunswick breast cancer patient keep her hair

New treatment helps New Brunswick breast cancer patient keep her hair

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Tammy Wegener watched her grandmother combat breast most cancers, so when she discovered her personal lump final December, she thought chemo-induced hair loss can be a given.

She was improper.

Nearly on the finish of her first chemotherapy cycle, the 48-year-old Quispamsis resident hasn’t misplaced any hair, and it is all due to a brand new therapy, not well-known in Canada however now accessible on the Saint John Regional Hospital: chilly capping.

The Saint John Regional hospital is dwelling to Atlantic Canada’s first Paxman machines, a know-how that cools and freezes the hair follicles when positioned on the pinnacle throughout chemotherapy to forestall hair loss.

Two Horizon well being staff donated the machine to the hospital’s oncology division.

Registered nurse Mari O’Brien and her husband, Dr. Ashley O’Brien, had bought the machine for Mari’s personal most cancers therapy, and it proved profitable.

When the machine turned outdated, the pair despatched a proposal letter to the Saint John Regional Hospital Basis for the acquisition of a brand new machine. Via donations, the Basis was in a position to buy two.

Mari O’Brien (left) and Ashley O’Brien helped safe two Paxman machines for the Saint John Regional Hospital’s oncology division. (Horizon Well being Community)

Wegener, who describes herself as an energetic one who likes enjoying musical devices and spending time in a kayak on the lake close to her dwelling, has been utilizing the machines over the previous three months. 

In contrast to sufferers in the USA, Wegener hasn’t needed to pay to entry the therapy.

She emphasised the therapy is determined by the affected person, what sort of chemotherapy they’re getting, and what situation their hair is in.

“Many ladies, they mentioned, will nonetheless lose just a little little bit of hair or have thinning occur. I suppose I am the primary one which hasn’t misplaced any hair,” Wegener mentioned.

Six girls utilizing the machines, 5 extra to begin in summer time

After discovering the lump on her breast just a few days earlier than Christmas, Wegener was in a position to get in to St. Joseph’s Hospital inside a month. She had a mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, and X-ray multi function morning. 

Appointments began piling up, and ultimately, Wegener met Jordan King, a breast most cancers nurse navigator.

“Nicely, she checked out my hair. I’ve lengthy hair, it is mainly midway down my again now. So she mentioned, you realize, if you happen to’re , we’ve got the [cold-capping] system. She was simply giving me all my choices.”

Wegener mentioned she was skeptical at first, and as somebody who loves heat climate, wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of being chilly for just a few hours at a time, however determined to provide it a strive. Employees educated her husband find out how to set the system up and put it on her head, and due to COVID-19, it was the one approach he was in a position to sit along with her within the hospital throughout her chemotherapy classes. 

Now, Wegener mentioned six girls present process chemotherapy share the Saint John hospital’s two Paxman machines, and 5 extra girls will begin utilizing them this summer time; she herself plans to proceed utilizing them till her second chemotherapy cycle ends on July 11.

“I am simply glad that this has been a alternative for me, and I feel it needs to be a alternative for all girls.”

Tammy Wegener mentioned preserving her hair throughout chemotherapy has helped give her peace of thoughts. (Submitted/Tammy Wegener)

She’s apprehensive individuals may assume that for girls, the therapy is all about vainness. 

However she mentioned there’s many the reason why most cancers sufferers may wish to save their hair. In addition to serving to along with her confidence and psychological well being, Wegener mentioned saving her hair has helped along with her peace of thoughts, particularly in the case of her kids.

A mom of 4, Wegener’s two youngest are 11 and 13. She mentioned if she will be able to look rather less like she has most cancers, she’s hoping she will be able to make this time of their lives much less scary, and if the worst remains to be to come back, a doable transition just a little simpler.

“It offers me higher management, as a result of you do not have very a lot management on this illness. Something can occur. I have been making an attempt to have a really optimistic method to my most cancers therapy. I do know that is not at all times straightforward, and naturally, I’ve my days the place I am emotional and drained.”

She desires to get the phrase out concerning the Paxman machines, as a result of she thinks they need to be a typical for therapy. 

“I really feel very grateful and blessed for my expertise to date,” she mentioned.

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