Chemo With a Side of Ice, Part 1

Chemo With a Side of Ice, Part 1
A Lump in the Road column The morning of my first chemo session, four blue coolers with hinged white lids, built-in retractable handles, and giant black tires on the hand truck carrying them lined the walls of my room at Stanford Hospital. Inside each cooler, 50 pounds of dry ice were layered between four frozen, helmet-shaped caps covered with Velcro straps. Sixteen caps, 200 pounds of dry ice, four coolers and one hand truck. All evidence of a pricey experiment designed to save my hair. “You’ll feel better if you don’t go bald,” Gary had told me a few days earlier, when he learned about this crazy gamble. I have to admit that other than dying, the thought of losing my hair was always on my mind. I had a hard time even bringing it up, because it seemed so silly and superficial. But my husband had scoped out my secret hair angst, and come up with a possible solution — if I wanted it. After my diagnosis, while I slept, Gary spent nights researching triple negative breast cancer, including the strain I have. Along the way he came across a site that promised no hair loss from the rigors of chemo. It turns out that a lot of countries outside the United States, where there is no FDA interference, have sophisticated machines to help cancer patients keep their hair. They consist of portable refrigeration units attached to hoses, that attach to spaceman-type helmets, that attach to chemo patients’ heads. Think early NASA astronauts as they were transported to the launch pad with portable oxyge
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