Quakers Hill resident Veronique August was one of the first patients to test out Blacktown Hospital’s new scalp cooling cap.
The hospital’s Cancer and Haematology Centre is the first facility in western Sydney, and one of the few public hospitals in NSW, to run a Paxman Cooling Cap system, designed to reduce hair loss in chemotherapy patients.
“As soon as I found out Blacktown Hospital was offering the system, I went and researched it and read quite a few success stories,” Ms August, 32, said. “It was cold on my head for about three minutes but not unbearable; it’s definitely not invasive and I think anything that is going to help you in the cancer journey is fantastic.”
The system uses a cold cap to cool the scalp, which preserves patients’ hair and their self confidence during chemotherapy.
The machine was funded by a $43,000 donation from the hospital’s auxiliary volunteers. Since its inception in 1959, the auxiliary has funded more than $750,000 worth of equipment.
Centre manager Leanne Watson said staff were thrilled to finally see the machine in action.
“Our cancer nurses have been training for months, led by breast cancer nurse Michelle Rosano, learning how to use the new machine,” she said.
“A patient wears a frozen cap tightly on their head before, during and after a chemotherapy session; the treatment is administered via tubes, filled with coolant, that chill the cap and limit the chemotherapy getting to the hair follicles – without increasing the chances of the cancer returning.”
“We see the impact of chemotherapy on our patients every day, particularly the hair loss - it can really affect how they see and feel about themselves; that’s why this machine is so important.”