COLD CAP: New therapy machines to reduce hair loss after chemotherapy were used for the first time at St Vincent's Hospital on Tuesday.
COLD CAP: New therapy machines to reduce hair loss after chemotherapy were used for the first time at St Vincent's Hospital on Tuesday. Cathryn McLauchlan

Hair loss machines to raise spirits of cancer patients

A CANCER diagnosis is traumatic enough without adding hair loss to the equation.

That's one of the reasons fundraising group Jodie's Inspiration raised money to buy two cold cap therapy machines for St Vincent's Hospital in Lismore.

The machines prevent chemotherapy drugs from reaching hair follicles by cooling the scalp temperature right down.

"It reduces the blood-flow to the hair follicle to preserve it from being damaged by the chemotherapy," St Vincent's oncology nurse unit manager Garth Brown said.

The unit is quite compact, equipped with two scalp-cooling caps that fit snug on a patients' heads.

A coolant is circulated at -4 degrees between the unit and the caps, providing a constant temperature which is essential in achieving the best results.

On Tuesday the oncology unit staff put the machines to use for the first time since they arrived in December.

"It went really well," Mr Brown said.

"I was expecting the patient to say it was too cold, but she was great ... when she took her cap off she did have ice on her head, but she didn't say it was too painful.

"She was happy to use it and hopefully the benefits outweigh the small amounts of discomfort."

Mr Brown said before St Vincent's received the cold cap therapy machines, the closest to the Northern Rivers was located in Port Macquarie.

Jodie McRae, founder of Jodie's Inspiration, said the group's next step was to raise money for palliative care units.

The next Jodie's Inspiration fundraising event will be a golf day on February 27, followed by participation in the Ballina Mother's Day Classic.


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